The supreme audit institution of the country has observed that the Press Information Department (PID) Islamabad spent Rs1.776 billion on “political campaigns by giving colourful photos on full pages of newspapers, resulting in utilisation of funds for political purposes”.
Calling it an unnecessary expenditure, the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) stated that the PID “obtained heavy funds of Rs1.552 billion through supplementary grant for payment of advertisement in newspapers and electronic media and incurred an expenditure of Rs1.776 billion on advertisement and publicity during the financial years 2017-19”.
The AGP stated that para 11 of the General Financial Rules (GFR - Vol 1) states that each head of a department is responsible for enforcing the financial order and strict economy at every step, adding that the official is responsible for observance of all relevant financial rules and regulations both by his own office and by subordinate disbursing officers.
When asked about the expenditure on political campaigns and utilisation of funds for political purposes, the AGP stated neither the management replied nor the Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) was convened till the finalisation of the report. “Audit recommends inquiry to fix responsibility,” the AGP report said.
Rs8.8m expenditure on renovation
Meanwhile, the auditor also detected irregular expenditure on renovation of PID office building at a cost of Rs8.85 million. It said that the PID Islamabad incurred the expenditure during the financial years 2017-19, adding that the repair work was executed departmentally instead of the PWD and in violation of instructions of the Finance Division.
Rs7.5m expenditure on private vehicle
The report maintained that the PID Islamabad incurred an expenditure of Rs7.5 million on hiring of vehicles during financial years 2017-19. The audit observed that the expenditure was made without calling open tender and when it was pointed out; neither management replied nor the DAC was convened till finalisation of report.
Irregular withdrawal of Rs25.7m
The AGP further said that the PID management drew an amount of Rs25.7 million through the Drawing and Disbursing Officer (DDO) during financial years 2017-19. The auditor observed that the claims of firms etc were drawn through DDO in cash instead of crossed cheques and payment details were also not available.
Rs16.4m on irregular appointments
The AGP maintained that the budget estimates for 2019-20 show that there were 479 posts (110 officers and 369 staff) and all posts were shown filled. However, PID Islamabad incurred an expenditure of Rs16.4 million on account of hiring of services for different positions, including IT and social media experts and activists, during financial years 2017-19.
Between 2017 and 2019, the auditor observed that the management did not advertise these posts – a total of 24 – in newspapers and later the agreements dated Feb 22, 2019 and April 25, 2019 were made on simple paper.
Rs6.04m irregular honorarium
The PID Islamabad paid honorarium of Rs30.252 million to 46 employees during 2017-18 and Rs30.231 million to 157 employees during 2018-19. Audit observed that the management paid more than one basic pay as honorarium in violation of the rules. He has recommended inquiries and fixing of responsibilities.