Drought recovery funds for Balochistan embezzled

Audit finds irregularities worth Rs57.4 million in funds.

Shezad Baloch August 24, 2011

QUETTA: Embezzlements and irregularities worth Rs57.4 million were uncovered in funds allocated for the Drought Recovery Assistance Programme Project (DRAPP) in Balochistan during fiscal year 2008-09.

The revelation was made in the audit report of Auditor General of Pakistan which he released a few days ago.

The years-long drought hit Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan leaving a negative impact on the existing meagre resources and also causing considerable economic and financial loss to the public.

The federal government, along with the financial assistance of the Asian Development Bank and World Bank in 2002, launched the Drought Emergency Relief Assistance (Dera) to mitigate the effect of drought, says the report.

The focus of the programme was to provide sustainable sources of drinking water, water conservation and management of sustainable livelihood, agriculture and livestock support, restoration of orchards and vegetative cover. The duration of the Dera programme was three financial years ie 2002-2005. On the completion of the Dera-1 programme, the project was extended under the name of Drought Recovery Assistance Programme Project up to September 2010, financed by the government of Pakistan.

The report says that the federal government allocated and released Rs285.38 million for the project. Expenses worth Rs255.938 million were incurred, while Rs29.445 million had not been spent. The amount refuted in the audit report was stated to be Rs57.42 million.

The unspent balance of Rs29.445 million was not given back, and was kept in the provincial government non-food account-I till the close of financial year 2008-09.

Sectors subjected to a detailed audit review were mainly Karezes, water channels, delay action dams, tube wells and water supply schemes under the DRAPP. These schemes were focused on as a major portion of the expenditure was incurred in these projects by departments in Balochistan.

Around 266 schemes relating to Dera-II/DRAPP were approved during financial year 2008-09, out of which, 210 schemes were completed and 56 schemes remained incomplete till the end of fiscal year 2008-09.

The audit report contains 36 audit observations involving Rs57.42 million.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th,  2011.