Irregularities of Rs1.28bn found in agriculture dept

AGP report says the department failed to submit Rs12.8bn of savings in a timely manner


Our Correspondent September 21, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: The auditor general of Pakistan has uncovered misappropriation of funds worth more than Rs1.28 billion in the Punjab Agriculture Department.

The discovery was made as authorities audited the report for FY2015-16. A copy of the report, available with The Express Tribune, showed that the department had also failed to submit Rs12.8 billion of savings in a timely manner.

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The report titled ‘Audit Report on the Accounts of Government of the Punjab: Audit Year 2015-16', showed that auditors wrote 1,343 paragraphs of irregularities, inappropriate use of funds, poor record management and lack of transparency. However, the department hardly complied with 62% of these objections.

Despite the tall claims of the Punjab government of fairness and merit in institutions, the report revealed that no record/vouched amount of Rs276.27 million was produced. According to the report, the audit could not authenticate the expenditure as a valid charge to the exchequer due to the failure to produce records.

During the audit of agriculture department, it was observed that an amount of Rs.230.93 million was spent on the purchase of agricultural machinery and spare parts, but there was no advertisement on the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority website or in the print media.

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It was also observed that daily labour was hired at a cost of Rs16.72million without an approval of the finance department and without advertisement, which was in violation of the above-stated rules. A payment of Rs2.79million was made by drawing cash and distributing it to officers instead of a cheque.

The AGP report also showed that cultivatable land was not utilised properly which resulted in a loss to the tune of Rs15.49 in the shape of lost income. A water reservoir was constructed at Koont Farm without observing specifications and it cost Rs20.50 million.

It also revealed that some faculty members of various universities were sent for PhD studies abroad. However, they either did not return or were unable to complete their. programmes which caused a Rs8.70 million loss. During the period of 2008-15, it was observed that 2,676 acres of land was occupied by illegal contractors (pattadars) and a people are than them occupied 68 acres of land. An amount of Rs628.49 million was recoverable from these illegal occupants.

The audit of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, for the year 2014-15, revealed that one lecturer of university sub-campus Toba Tek Singh provided a fake MSc degree for appointment as a lecturer. As a result of the inquiry, his services were terminated by the syndicate on September 7, 2013. The syndicate decided to recover an amount of Rs1.62million from him, but the money is yet to be returned..

The audit of the agriculture department showed that a number of vehicles, bulldozers, and other store items worth Rs48.98million were unserviceable or unusable. In the absence of appropriate action, the condition on this machinery was further deteriorating.

Weak internal controls on management of assets and negligence in taking appropriate action could result in further deterioration and loss to the public exchequer. The matter was pointed out to the formations during the audit conducted from March 2014 to September 2015.

The matter was reported to the administrative department, but ultimately delayed. The audit recommended that the auction process be expedited and sale proceeds deposited into the government treasury.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2017.

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