LAHORE: The Auditor General of Pakistan has unearthed irregularities totalling over Rs36.94 billion in the accounts of the Government of the Punjab during the financial year 2015-16.
The AGP report, available with The Express Tribune, points out Rs.20.64 billion worth of reported cases of fraud, embezzlement, and theft, misuse of public resources amounting to Rs.1.04 billion, losses due to the weaknesses of internal controls to the tune of Rs1.82 billion, recoveries and overpayments representing cases of established overpayments or misappropriations of public money of Rs4.11 billion, losses due to non-production of records valued at Rs7.81 billion, and other cases such as accidents and negligence amounting to Rs1.52 billion.
Other tabulations in the AGP report show unsound asset management causing losses of Rs414.21 million, weak financial management hitting the exchequer for Rs11.92 billion, weak internal control relating to financial management causing Rs23.5 billion in losses, and ‘others’ being responsible for Rs1.11 billion in losses.
The key audit findings of the report included misappropriation of funds amounting to Rs1.04 billion, noticed in nine cases, recoveries pointed out in various sections amounting to Rs3.12 billion, unauthorised payments of Rs547.05 million, noticed in four cases, non-production of record amounting to Rs7.811 billion, noticed in 10 cases, 13 cases of irregular expenditure and violation of rules amounting to Rs1.12 billion, lack of internal controls noticed in twelve cases amounting to Rs1.55 billion, five cases pertaining to nonproduction of assets amounting to Rs405.45million, and one case of non-adjustment of advances causing losses of Rs122.84 million.
The AGP reports also found disregard towards prescribed frameworks, inappropriate use of funds, poor record management, lack of transparency in procurements, and mismanagement of receipts in different departments of the Government of the Punjab.
The AGP’s report showed that during the audit of various formations of the agriculture department, records were not produced, nor was the vouched amount of Rs276.27 million provided for audit scrutiny.
The AGP’s report showed that during the audit of the finance department for 2014-15, the auditable record of vouched accounts, financial statements, record related to commitment charges, sanctions authority letters and others amounting to Rs43.917 billion were not produced for audit. It also showed that during the audit for the year 2014-15, it was observed that the department provided loans to various companies at a uniform interest rate of 0.25 per cent per annum and repayment within five years along with a two-year grace period without executing any agreements between the government and the companies. The AGP was of the view that the grant of loans without executing agreements could result in complications in the payback of these loans.
The AGP’s report showed that during the audit of the food department, it was observed that various contracts were awarded for the procurement of various items such as jute bags, PP bags and AP tablets amounting to Rs7.11 billion. The audit, however, did not find any proof that, at the time of evaluation of technical proposals, specifications of materials to be procured were tested by recognised government laboratories.
During the audit of the health department, it was observed that medical, surgical, and chemical items amounting to Rs2.02 billion were produced in violation of PPRA rules. The audit was of the view that weak supervisory and financial controls resulted in the stated two-plus billion rupees in irregular expenditure.
Higher education department
During the audit of the higher education department (HED), auditable records of Rs3.95 billion were not produced to audit and the AGP was of the view that due to non-production of these documents, it could not ascertain the authenticity of HED’s accounts.
The AGP report further disclosed that an amount of Rs3.996 billion was invested in different banks without fulfilling prevailing conditions. The audit was of the view that non-observance of rules and weak administrative controls resulted in unauthorised investments.
During the audit of the home department, the auditable record and the vouched account of the releases and payments amounting to Rs2.07 billion made to various organisations and personnel were not produced for scrutiny. The AGP was of the view that due to non-production of these records, audit could not ascertain the authenticity of the accounts.