An audit report released recently revealed that the University of Health Science (UHS) concealed Rs327 million in its records. To add to that the audit found that Rs154 million were overspent.
The irregularities were uncovered in the Federal Audit Reports 2008-09, which was released by Auditor General of Pakistan recently.
The report says that the scrutiny of the financial documents for the year 2008-09 revealed that neither investments nor balance of different accounts of the ending year were shown in the budget estimates — the combined figure amounts to Rs.326.99 million. It further said that the balances were concealed by the university management and the budget was also shown to be in deficit.
Higher Education Commission (HEC) on June 24, 2008 probed the UHS management about these “misappropriations”, it was learnt. However, the management told HEC that only Rs6.01 million were available in the form of cash balances and investments and the same was also communicated to HEC after release of funds, but no action has been taken on concealment of actual balance.
An official said that the UHS said that budget estimates are prepared well before close of financial year therefore the actual balances lying with the bank could not be shown in budget estimates. Neither it is mandatory, the university said. However, the auditor is of the view that the management had not planned the activities and or utilised its budget in a “proper way”. Moreover, the report says that a comparison of the database of M.Phil students with actual expenditure incurred on their education, training and research suggests that Rs154 million was spent on them, which was not justified.
According to the report, as per the UHS information, 133 students were admitted between 2004-05 to 2007-08. Out of these students, 64 appeared in the examination, whereas only 11 scholars passed and the degree were shown issued to only six students against the total expenditure of Rs154.04 million. It was also informed that 17 students were struck off due to desertion. All the scholars admitted in M.Phil get a stipend of Rs20,000 per month. These scholars are bound to repay these stipend received in case of desertion. However, no record of the recovered amount was shown to the auditor.
The UHS management told the auditor that the M.Phil is a research degree which involves collection of samples of patients from various hospitals that is exhaustive and time consuming. So far 42 research scholars have completed their M.Phil, not 11, as mentioned in the audit report. These students are now rendering services in medical and dental colleges across Pakistan.
The Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) meeting held on March 26, 2009 decided that the audit should verify the record with reference to misreporting. A subsequent probe revealed that no amount was recovered from the scholars who had deserted their respective programme.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2011.