The zakat and ushr ministry spent millions on its publicity campaign during the last financial year originally meant for needy families, according to the Auditor General of Pakistan’s annual report for fiscal year 2011.
According to the report, the ministry spent Rs69.21 million on its advertisement campaign in violation of rules set out in the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance of 1980, under which the zakat system was introduced in Pakistan.
According to the report, when asked to explain the discrepancy, the ministry replied that Zakat Council Chairperson Zumurud Khan, a member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, had approved the campaign and advertising agencies were selected following proper procedure.
But the auditor-general’s office refused to accept this response and recommended the government to conduct an inquiry, assign responsibility and recover the amount that could have been better utilised.
The report says that during 2011, the ministry released Rs286.1 million to Punjab on account of “administrative expenses”, including payment of salaries and other perks for zakat committee members. But, interestingly, these committees were non-functional. Authorities claim this amount was spent on expenses such as the internal audit, staff salaries, stationery and printing charges, and allowances for heads of local zakat committees.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2011.
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