Futile expense: Punjab spends millions on budget copies

The information was revealed in connection with an RTI request


Rana Tanveer April 22, 2016
The information was revealed in connection with an RTI request. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

LAHORE:


The provincial government published 15,340 copies of the 2015-2016 at a cost of Rs11 million, the Finance Department has revealed in connection with an RTI request.


Rs6.93 million was spent on printing copies of the federal budget. The provincial government had the copies published at the Government Printing Press and a private concern.

The federal government, on the other hand, had the copies printed at the Printing Corporation of Pakistan Press with the exception of 1,000 copies of medium term budget estimates that were printed at Islamabad’s Printo Graphics.

In its reply, the Finance Department said of the books, 13,140 had been printed at the Government Printing Press while 2,200 were printed Zeb Khan Printers following an open tender process.

The department said Rs8.25 million was spent on single colour printing the copies at the state-owned press while Rs2.68 million was spent on getting the books published at Zeb Khan Printers.

The Finance Department said all the copies had been printed in accordance with the Punjab Procurement Rules 2014.

The department said the initiative had been taken to distribute the copies among all MPAs, the media and across divisional and district headquarters and public offices.

The information commission had directed the Finance Department on April 7 to provide the information to Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives executive director Amir Ijaz. The department had then submitted the information before the commission a week later. Ijaz said he had approached the information commission after the Finance Department refused to share details regarding the aforementioned details with him.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said he had approached the Balochistan Finance Department to obtain a copy of the province’s budget.

He said he had been left dumbfounded when he discovered that CDs of the budget record were circulated instead of having it printed to save money. He said this had left him inquisitive regarding what transpired across other provinces and at the federal level. Ijaz said he had then written to all of them. He said only the federal government had gotten back to him.

Once he obtained details regarding the expense incurred on printing copies of Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P’s) budget, he said, the centre would lobby the governments to put an end to the practice for purposes of economy.

Ijaz said most legislators did not even bother to go over budget books. In this day and age, he said, all the data should be made available across pertinent websites instead of printing budget copies.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2016.

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