After millions of rupees of fudged accounts were brought up, the Sindh forest and wildlife department asked the Public Accounts Committee to give it a week to produce the proper records, saying that the ‘corrupt’ officials have retired.
During the committee’s proceedings on Tuesday, chairman Jam Tamachi Unar was not pleased when the forest and wildlife, and mines and mineral development departments failed to present evidence that would disprove missing accounts worth millions of rupees.
“You people don’t have the proper records and answers for money appropriated, so why should we waste time here?” With these words, Unar wrapped up the meeting.
All audits for the years between 2006 and 2009, pointed out by the audit team, were put off since the departments failed to give satisfactory explanations. Unar directed the committee’s secretary to write the chief minister and chief secretary about the missing accounts.
Forest secretary Mushtaque Memon requested Unar to give them one week. He explained that the officials who handled these accounts had retired but, despite this, they would try to get the proper paperwork.
Later, Unar told the media that it would be impossible for the committee to settle the old problems but it would try to take on the new cases.
During the scrutiny of the forest and wildlife department accounts, audit director-general Najamul Saqib Siddiqi pointed out that Rs42 million was spent by the forest department but the cash books and disburser ledgers had no mention.
“It is unfortunate that government revenue worth Rs33 million was transferred to the personal account of the drawings and disbursement officer (DDO) in 2006,” he said. The wildlife secretary responded by saying that the amount was put in the DDO’s account because hunters deposit their fee at different times. Unar and other scrutiny members did not accept this justification.
The committee was told that the forest and wildlife offices undertook work costing Rs10 million without following the procedure which involves inviting open tenders. The department owes other departments, officials and contractors Rs8.56 million as well. A forest official requested a settlement of this issue, since it concerns two sister departments — forest and irrigation — but the committee deferred this to the next meeting.
The department also earned Rs1.99 million in income tax and by leasing government land but the money was not deposited into government accounts. The forest secretary said that the money was deducted at source when they bought vehicles and imported seeds but Siddiqi said there was no proper record. Department officials were of the view that the record was burnt in the riots following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
The department spent Rs14 million buying various items and doing repairs without inviting open tenders and Rs3 million was paid in advance to officials in 2008 but there were no records.
For the mines and mineral development department, the committee was informed that the Sindh Coal Authority director-general did not deposit Rs3.58 million in the treasury account but spent it on imported vehicles, including a 4X4 station wagon, without obtaining the finance department’s approval.
“The department officials realised their mistake and told us that they will get approval from the board but to no avail,” said Siddiqi. Besides, the department had bought various items worth Rs682.532 without recording this. An amount of Rs159,000 was spent on repairs of vehicles but there was no record to verify this either.
The committee was told that 50 exploration mining permits were issued, without advertisements, in the newspapers. The details of the security deposit were not provided and the lease agreement was not presented. “An amount of Rs1.4 million was shown outstanding against various leases, which has yet to be recovered,” said Siddiqi.
The department officials said, “They had an approval from a competent authority during their departmental meeting and recovery has been made.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ