'NTS functioning without policy, strategy'

AGP finds Rs453m in 2003-2010 either misplaced or stolen from NTS office

Riazul Haq March 28, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has found several discrepancies in its special audit of National Testing Service (NTS), however the latter’s official denied most of the findings.

The special audit revealed that the NTS was functioning without rules, policies, corporate strategy and organised objectives that caused misuse of funds, misappropriation of billions of rupees and even raised questions over its legality.

The audit was requested by the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology’s (CIIT) board of governors (BoG) through Higher Education Commission (HEC) in October 2016. It is the first audit of NTS by the AGP since its inception in 2003 while the one by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan was rejected outright by the NTS on technical grounds.

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The NTS Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dr Sherzada Khan denied all the findings of the report and stated that replies to the audit’s objections had been sent to the auditor, but refused to share a copy of them.

The audit observed that NTS was established as a project of CIIT without obtaining the approval of the board of governors (BoG) and even the ordinance of CIIT did not allow the establishment of such a company.

The assets of the company were transferred to the company in violation of the CIIT’s ordinance while the NTS remained dormant since its establishment in 2003 till February 2013.

“Formation of a company by the employees of CIIT was irregular and unauthorised,” the auditor stated. The CIIT transferred assets of Rs685 million to NTS in August 2012 without prior approval of the BoG, neither at the time of the establishment of the company nor during the transfer of assets.

The COO said it was done with the BoG’s approval.

The audit further showed irregular and unauthorised payments were made against advertising charges of Rs235 million to selected firms without open competition while advertising cost was being charged from candidates appearing in tests and admission.

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The audit also observed that the NTS management has neither prepared procurement rules nor followed the government’s rules to maintain transparency. To this the COO said they had their own rules and government’s rules did not apply
to NTS.

The audit found that the NTS paid Rs115 million to invigilators hired without any formal agreement, while nothing of the sort was approved by the NTS’ BoD.

The NTS also received Rs6.4 billion in various accounts throughout the country without any devised mechanism and there was no method to keep project-wise financial details.

Commenting on the objection, the COO said, “We could not open separate accounts for hundreds of projects so we preferred to open a few and utilise them.”

Similarly, the NTS management intimated the auditors that the record of expenditure of Rs453 million between 2002 and 2010 was either misplaced or stolen from the office.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2017.

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