Public Accounts Committee: Police, home depts earn the ire of watchdog

The committee cast suspicions over the police’s commercial activities.


Hafeez Tunio August 02, 2012

KARACHI:


The police’s financial records came under fire on Thursday when the director general of the Public Account Committee’s audit team, Ghulam Akbar Soho, hit out at the law enforcers for engaging in commercial activities in a manner that was not transparent.


The audit points pertaining to the home and police departments were supposed to be discussed at the committee’s meeting on Thursday, but much to the chagrin of the watchdog body, neither of them had bothered to prepare a complete set of records. Instead, the members of the committee began venting their anger at certain police officials for repeatedly snaking their way out of producing a proper record.

“Audit officials have tried to meet DIG Sukkur many times. But he never entertained them or furnished a copy of the reports,” said Soho. “We suspect that there are irregularities worth millions in the police’s accounts, but we don’t have access to these and can’t carry out an audit.”

He claimed that the police have constructed buildings and shops from which they are earning a considerable amount of money. “I do not want to make any allegations, but we need information for an audit,” he said.

IG Fayyaz Leghari, who was at the meeting, quickly responded to these concerns. He said that the police had started welfare schemes like those of the armed forces, which is why the shops were built. Defending the commercial ventures of his department, he said that the financial records for these would be given to the committee.

IG Leghari also assured the watchdog body that he will take action against the police officials who have impeded the audit.  Dost Ali Baloch, AIG finance, said that around 421 police officials who are handling the police’s accounts had responded to the anomalies found in the financial records and others will follow suit.  “We have completed 98 per cent our work and want to seek more time so that we prepare all the records and adjust the accounts,” he said.  IG Leghari requested the watchdog body’s chairman to set the new date for the next meeting after Eidul Fitr. However, the chairman refused to do so and asked them to resolve the problem within two weeks.

The home department also attracted the committee’s displeasure when the additional secretary of the department, Jamal Jalani, said that he didn’t have the records on him. This was the department’s fifth meeting with the committee where they had failed to produce the records. “Both the secretary and additional secretary of the home department were recently transferred. I have taken charge a few days ago and need some time to understand the audit points and make adjustments to the account,” said Jalani.

This statement didn’t sit well with the committee’s members, including Amir Moin Pirzada, who was visibly irked and shot back, saying, “Home department officials gave the same excuse in our last meeting with them in February. Almost six months have elapsed, but the department is still clueless about how to resolve the audit concerns.”

There was also confusion regarding the number of audit points that were to be discussed. While the director general of the audit said that 38 points amounting to a total of Rs1,570 million were to be discussed with the police department, Baloch said that there were a total of 41 points. Similarly, though Soho had said that 11 points for the years 2006 to 2009 pertaining to the home department would be discussed, Jalani said that there were a total of six points, out of which four had already been settled.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.

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