LAHORE: Irregularities of nearly Rs11 billion were detected in the accounts of the higher education sector in the province, according to the Auditor General of Pakistan’s (AGP) audit report for the year 2015-16.
According to the report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, irregularities in the accounts of the higher education sector points to non-production of records, irregular payments, investing surplus funds without approval, placement of funds in accounts other than the approved banks, procurement without advertisements, irregular expenditure on purchases, illegal appointments and payment of salaries and reemployment of retired officials, among others.
The report also highlighted recurring over the past five years issues in the accounts of the Higher Education Department (HED) and asked the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to look into the matter and “immediate intervention by the Public Accounts Officer (PAO).” The report revealed two main clusters of irregularities, namely irregular appointments and arbitrary increase in pay and allowances, while the second was identified as non-adherence to Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.
The report showed that just these two irregularities accounted for 39% of the total discrepancies in the last five years. The report also stated, “The compliance with PAC directives in Higher Education Department remained unsatisfactory except for the year 2005-06. The department is required to improve it.”
The largest discrepancy, according to the AGP report, was of Rs3.996 billion reported as irregular investment of surplus funds without approval of the finance department. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Gujranwala, Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), Islamia University of Bahawalpur, BISE Sargodha Kinnaird College Lahore, Lawrence College Ghora Gali Murree, BISE Faisalabad and BISE DG Khan had been identified as the organisations practicing unauthorised investments. “The audit was of the view that non observance of rules and weak administrative controls resulted in unauthorised investments,” the report read.
The second largest irregularity in the higher education sector observed by the AGP was non-production of vouched accounts/records of Rs3.947 billion. According to the report, HED secretary, education colleges Lahore director, Government College for Women Madina Town Faisalabad, Government Postgraduate College Samanabad Faisalabad, Education Colleges Director Rawalpindi, Government Postgraduate College for Women Sargodha and BISE Bahawalpur did not produce records for the audit. It added that the audit was of the view that due to non-production of record, the audit could not ascertain the authenticity of accounts”. “The audit recommends disciplinary action against the responsible personnel for hindering the auditorial functions besides production of record.”
Appointments, allowances and salaries
The AGP report highlighted several irregularities in appointments, allowances and salaries paid under different heads. About Rs22.9 million were reported under irregular appointments without advertisement. The report cites a Supreme Court’s judgment which ordered that no recruitment should be done against ad-hoc and regular posts which were not advertised properly.
“During the audit of the higher education department, it was observed that the appointments were made without proper advertisements.”
The audit also reported irregular payment of allowances worth Rs16.41 million without approval of the chancellor.
The Islamia University Bahawalpur, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore for campus allowance, Government Sadiq College Women University Bahawalpur, UET Taxila, LCWU, Government College Women University Sialkot and Government College Women University Madina Town Faisalabad were found to have paid allowances without approval of the chancellor. Some of these universities disregarded the rules for several different allowances, the report stated.
The highest irregularity of Rs87.77 million was found in payments of late sitting allowance and some BISE in Punjab paid. These boards include BISE DG Khan, BISE Multan and BISE Faisalabad. Other irregularities of Rs87.77 million were found in payment of salaries and other benefits on appointments without approval of Service Rules.
As one of the most recurring issues in the accounts of the higher education sector, the report pointed out several discrepancies in procurement, purchase, contracts and unsanctioned withdrawal of funds. An amount of Rs504.98 million was recorded under irregular procurement without advertisement. Irregular expenditure on purchases was calculated at Rs381.48 million, while irregular awards of contracts amounted to Rs122.84 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2017.