PTI govt orders forensic audit of SOEs

Audit of state-run companies will be conducted for past 10 years


Zafar Bhutta August 23, 2020
There are several loss-making SOEs in the country like national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Steel Mills. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:

The government has given the go-ahead for conducting a forensic audit of major state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that has been encountering financial trouble for the past 10 years.

It suggests that previous government tenures of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will also fall within the ambit of forensic audit.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the minister for maritime affairs, in a recent meeting of the cabinet, pointed out that most of the state enterprises had not conducted their financial audit for the past four years.

The prime minister directed the adviser on finance and revenue to get the forensic audit conducted of the major financially troubled state-run enterprises for the past 10 years. Forensic audit means the examination and evaluation of a firm’s financial records to derive evidence.

There are several loss-making SOEs in Pakistan like national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), which have put a burden on the national exchequer.

Tariff subsidy

During discussion in the cabinet meeting, the issue of high electricity bills due to the denial of benefit of previous slabs was also raised.

The energy minister explained that the benefit of one previous slab was being given to consumers and any benefit beyond that would translate into higher subsidies, which would add to the circular debt.

The minister for national food security and research highlighted the issue of tariff subsidy on tube wells. The meeting was informed that to ensure the provision of targeted subsidy, it had been linked to landholding. Information in this respect had to be provided by provinces, which was still awaited.

Flour, sugar unavailability

The minister for Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan expressed concern over unavailability of wheat flour and sugar at utility stores.

The minister for industries and production acknowledged the shortage in a few stores and stressed that supply issues were being addressed on priority.

Extension for NIRC chief

The cabinet also took up the matter of second extension in the appointment contract of National Industrial Relations Commission (NIRC) Chairman Justice (Retd) Mian Shakirullah Jan for two years.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had intimated through a letter on June 20, 2020 that “Chief Justice of Pakistan has been pleased to extend the tenure of Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, former judge of Supreme Court, for a further period of two years as chairman of the National Industrial Relations Commission”.

He was initially appointed NIRC chairman for a period of two years with effect from September 7, 2016. His appointment was subsequently extended for two more years with effect from September 7, 2018 in light of Supreme Court’s letter and with prior approval of the federal cabinet. His extended term will expire on September 6, 2020.

The Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Division sought approval of the federal cabinet for granting a second extension for two years in the appointment contract of Shakirullah Jan with effect from September 7, 2020.

The cabinet considered the summary titled “Second extension in appointment contract of National Industrial Relations Commission chairman”, and approved the proposal.

NIRC had been established under Section 53 of the Industrial Relations Act 2012. It deals in matters relating to adjudication of industrial disputes, registration of trade unions, determination of the collective bargaining agent, unfair labour practices and individual grievances of workers in trans-provincial establishments and those located in Islamabad Capital Territory to handle the offences prescribed in the Act.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2020.

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