KARACHI: Sindh health department officials allegedly misappropriated millions of rupees during the 2016-17 fiscal, an audit report has revealed.
The report, available with The Express Tribune, revealed that substandard equipment and medicines had been provided to various hospitals, while unauthorised and even retired officials had been given government vehicles.
Irregular payments and salaries released to various government employees, illegal postings, purchasing of medicines without tendering, problems at drug testing laboratories, and suspicious transfers of funds are among the other anomalies unearthed in the report.
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During the audit of the Jacobabad Institute of Medical and Health Sciences (JIMS), it was observed that medical equipment provided by CDM Smith and USAID were not working properly and were substandard. “Soon after the installation, the equipment was not properly working. The matter of substandard equipment was not communicated to the USAID country representative,” the auditor general, said, adding that instead of trying to make the equipment functional, the hospital management proposed buying new equipment from the budget under the ‘plant and machinery’ head.
“During the audit…the auditable record involving financial impact of Rs10.935 billion was not produced for the audit team,” the report said, further explaining that the office of the health secretary could not give records for a grant in aid of Rs6.619 billion. The health secretary’s office also failed to provide records pertaining to around Rs412 million in incentives for polio workers.
Other offices which had not provided records included the Malaria Control Program director, Institute of Medical Sciences, Shahdadpur director, Tuberculosis Control, Hyderabad director, and various government hospitals and DHO offices.
It was observed that payments totalling Rs53 million were made to officers and officials working over and above sanctioned strength without justification in Government Hospital, Korangi in Karachi, DHO office Ghotki, Civil Hospital Mirpurkhas, Sindh Government Hospital Saudabad, Karachi, DHO Tharparkar, and EPI office project director in Karachi.
During the audit of the office of the Hepatitis Prevention and Control Program Hyderabad program manager, it was observed that expenditure of Rs28.7 million was incurred on the purchase of ‘short expiry’ medicines.
The report has also discussed at length the unauthorised rental of vehicles. It was observed that a number of official vehicles were in the custody of ex-officers or private persons. “No one knows the whereabouts of the luxury cars…In this regard, the management has not taken any step for the return of the same.”
Fuel and other maintenance costs for these vehicles were also still being paid from government accounts for a long time. The possibility of loss to the government to the tune of Rs13 million could not be ruled out, the report said.
According to the report, health department officials in various districts claimed to have paid Rs102 million to contractual staff, but they failed to provide any agreements, appointment orders, or even attendance records for the employees. The Taluka Hospital Chachro MS, Health Services director in Karachi, Institute of Skin Diseases director in Karachi, DHO Thatta, DHO Sukkur, Taluka Hospital Sakrand, Taluka Hospital Shaheed Fazi Rahu, and DHO Khairpur had all made payments which violated their administrative authority.
The audit of the office of the health services director general in Karachi revealed that payments of Rs11 million were made to employees appointed on detailment basis. “These employees belonged to other institutions, but were hired here on huge salaries in violation of Supreme Court orders,” the report added.
Regarding the irregular purchase of medicine, the report said expenditure of Rs1.211 billion was incurred on the purchase of medicines from a general order supplier instead of a distributor for the manufacturer. “Neither the laboratory report nor authorisation certificate was obtained.
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This expenditure was incurred without the constitution of a procurement committee,” the report said, adding that Government Hospital New Karachi, the Institute of Chest Disease Kotri director, Taluka Hospital Ghotki, Sindh Government Hospital Pareetabad, Hyderabad, the Gambat Institute of Science Khairpur Mir’s director and the Hepatitis Prevention and Control program manager had ordered such purchases.
The audit report has expressed serious concern over the Hepatitis Control Program for violating the rules in purchasing PCR kits and said, “Irregular expenditure of Rs80 million is incurred on PCR kits and HCV rapid devices, but no any contract agreement was provided. The delivery report was not available.”
The report said that unauthorised payments of Rs2.168 billion were made to officers and staff on account of inadmissible allowances including ad-hoc allowance, conveyance allowance, hardship allowance, non-practising allowance, health professional allowance, rural compensatory allowance, and casualty allowance.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2019.