Days after the federal cabinet reportedly expressed lack of confidence in the Auditor General of Pakistan’s (AGP) office, President Dr Arif Alvi directed AGP Javaid Jehangir to prepare a roadmap in one month in order to eliminate malpractices within the organisation.
The president also asked the AGP, who called on him on Friday, to take corrective measures and improve the performance and efficiency of his office to address anomalies of the system. President Alvi emphasised that focus should be on identifying grave irregularities rather than pointing out trivial issues.
Jehangri briefed the president about the working of the AGP office and the steps being taken by him for improving the efficiency of the organization by adopting information technology.
During the meeting, President Alvi asked the AGP to identify the gray areas within the organization and propose workable solutions. He also directed him to expeditiously complete the audit automation process to ensure transparency in the organisation.
The AGP office is in the news for the past few days, especially, after Prime Minister Imran Khan talked about corruption in the institution during a cabinet meeting and the cabinet criticized the AGP for harassing government officials on the pretext of audit paras.
The ministers and the departments have also expressed annoyance over different audit paras that appear to be superfluous and unrealistic and become a hurdle in the swift decision-making process.
They said some of the paras do not contribute to improving the system but hamper the departments’ functions and decisions.
Talking to The Express Tribune, PM’s Inspection Commission (PMIC) Chairman Ahmed Yar Hiraj confirmed that the PMIC had submitted a report pertaining to irregularities of the AGP Office.
He alleged that the AGP office officials were taking “commission” on every item purchased for the government and there were several complaints about malpractices in the auditor’s institution.
The PMIC has suggested online automation of the accounts to increase transparency and reduce human involvement. A forensic audit of the anomalies pertaining to the AGP Office could reveal the exact amount of the corruption, he said.
On a number of occasions, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also expressed surprise over the rising number of audit paras.
In November 2020, PAC Chairman Rana Tanveer noted that the PAC is “moving in circles” as the total number of audit paras piled up to around 24,000 as opposed to hardly 100 paras pending decision by the Indian parliament’s accountability arm.
But in Pakistan, Tanveer said, audit paras for the years 2011-12 were still pending “and when finally action is taken, it emerges that the person concerned has either retired or passed away”.
Though the AGP was hesitant to confirm the total number of pending paras in India, he informed the committee that roughly 24,000 audit paras were pending before the PAC.
By August 2018, he said, total 18,500 audit paras were pending, adding that roughly 2,000 to 2,200 new paras come every year making the total pending paras around 23,000 to 24,000.
In November 2019, Tanveer had replaced PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif as PAC chairman. Tanveer had vowed to improve the committee’s functioning.
The PAC chairman recently said that “national and religious duty of accountability” was not being performed at the level of departmental accounts committees (DAC) despite the fact that he had written letters to the highest forums, including Prime Minister Imran Khan.