Ministers assail auditor general in cabinet meeting

PM orders external audit of AGP to expose blacksheep and eliminate corruption


Amir Ilyas Rana January 13, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister and the members of the federal cabinet as well as senior bureaucrats, attending a cabinet meeting assailed the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) for harassing government officials on the pretext of audit paras, and bringing a bad name to the government institutions.

The cabinet, in principle, approved the legal amendments to make the AGP institution more empowered, autonomous and transparent, while the prime minister directed for an external audit of the AGP to expose and punish any black sheep in it.

The discussion on the AGP started when Dr Ishrat Hussain, Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms, presented an amendment bill aimed at further empowering the AGP and adding technological support to the system, sources said.

They added that Communication Minister Murad Saeed, Adviser Dr Ishrat Hussain and Cabinet Division Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera spoke against the AGP. Sukhera revealed that people were being blackmailed by the AGP staff on the basis of audit paras.

The prime minister was told that the AGPR was overstepping its authority instead of limiting itself to accounts matters. From auditors to clerks, they harass people on the basis of audit paras, the prime minister was informed.

The meeting heard that the AGP, portrayed small technical flaws as corruption to create sensation in the media, which tarnished the image of institutions and the government.

The meeting was also informed that the AGP staff cleared the audit paras with the help of assembly members on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in return for billions of rupees received annually from the officers and institutions in bribes.

The prime minister said that according to an estimate, the AGP staff were involved in collecting more than Rs150 billion in bribes, annually. He added that strict action should be taken after identifying those elements.

Murad Saeed proposed the audit of the AGP as an institution. He said they blackmailed people, clear audit paras in exchange for bribes, and abuse their authority. Dr Ishrat Hussain said that in order to bring transparency to the AGP, it was necessary to reduce human contacts.

He also proposed the introduction of digitisation process in the AGPR, saying that it would help eradicate financial corruption. The prime minister directed for the external audit of the AGP to expose and punish the black sheep in the institution.

The cabinet approved in principle the legal amendments to make the AGP more empowered, autonomous and transparent. These amendments would enable innovation in audit procedures by using technology and expertise.

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