ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has sought initiation of an inquiry against the management of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for appointing a number of consultants in violation of rules and regulations.

In its report for audit year 2020-21, which is yet to be tabled before parliament, the auditors pointed out that the HEC management had incurred an expenditure of Rs36.1 million on account of remuneration of the consultants during the financial years 2018-20.

The audit report observed that the consultants were appointed for routine assignments without any need assessment and specific job description.

Moreover, they were given extensions without any performance evaluation. The report say that the appointment of retired government employees as consultants without any need assessment was irregular.

The report noted that no routine assignment had been given to the consultants. It quoted the HEC as clarifying that only a few retired officers who were hired have had a vast experience in the relevant fields/assignments required as per the Terms and Reference of the positions. The suggestion of audit for periodic evaluation and assessment of the performance of the consultants has been noted by the commission for compliance.

The audit report said the reply of the HEC management was not acceptable as consultants had been appointed in violation of the Establishment Division’s notified guidelines.

It further said the Departmental Audit Committee (DAC) was not convened till finalisation of this report. “The audit recommends an inquiry to fix responsibility besides taking correct action,” the report said.

It may be noted here that ousted HEC chairman Dr Tariq Banuri had appointed a numbers of consultants and earlier this year the National Accountability Bureau initiated a probe against him.

PM laptop scheme

Auditors also pointed out that 2,786 laptops worth Rs146.04 million had been lying undistributed in various universities since 2018. Moreover, the warranty period of one year also expired while the HEC management had refunded performance guarantee without testing the laptops.

The report stated that the government suffered financial loss due to negligence of the management. The auditors stated that according to the HEC management initially over 10,000 laptops could not be distributed for reasons beyond its control. The report said the management had accepted the audit observations and recommended that responsibility should be fixed against the persons at fault.

In another audit para, it was noted that the project management of Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme (Phase-II) of HEC delivered laptops through M/S Higher Electrical Appliance Corporation to various universities. The record maintained by the management revealed that 1,011 laptops had either been stolen or misplaced, of which 784 had been recovered and 227 were still missing.

The recovered amount of Rs1.10 million from the concerned universities on account of 23 stolen laptops was not deposited in the government treasury.

“No efforts were made for recovery of the remaining 227 laptops,” reads the audit para.

The audit report noted that the government had suffered a loss of Rs11.95 million while no action was taken against the person/s at fault.It recommended that the matter should be inquired for fixing responsibility.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2021


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