Irregularities galore: Inquiry into TVO’s affairs launched

Allegations include payments of honorarium to volunteers for attending meetings.

Peer Muhammad August 12, 2012


Amid allegations of irregularities and mismanagement, the government has launched an inquiry in the Trust for Voluntary Organisations (TVO), The Express Tribune learnt on Saturday.

Sources said mismanagement has been the norm in TVO for the last 20 years, where 80 per cent of grants were spent on administrative affairs and only 20 per cent were being utitlised on executing programmes.

It was learnt that after receiving multiple complaints about TVO’s poor performance and abuse of funds by management and board members, Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Secretary Javed Iqbal has constituted a committee to inquire into the matter.

Since TVO’s establishment in 1992, only one evaluation report on the progress and utilisation of funds has come out. TVO’s performance and resources have never been externally evaluated, encouraging misappropriation and wastage, and driving TVO to the verge of collapse.

The organisation was established with a grant of Rs520 million by the Pakistan government and $30 million by the US government. The trust’s administrators preferred not to play by the rules in running its affairs, except during the initial stages when the organisation was headed by known figures like Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Begum Zari Sarfraz. During the last five years, the performance of the organisation has plummeted, said an official.

The TVO board, it was further learnt, approved payment of Rs10,000 as honorarium for members for attending board meetings. They are not entitled to this amount according to the trust’s bylaws as all the board members are supposed to be volunteers, he said.

Senior officers of EAD have also been receiving the honorarium for attending TVO board meetings despite the fact that it is part of their official duties for which they get salaries, he added.

Another official said that due to TVO’s dismal performance, board members never allowed the management to conduct an audit. When former chief executive officer (CEO) Sajjad Baqar tried to conduct an audit and evaluation, he was terminated by the board of directors within no time.

A fundamental aim for establishing TVO was to empower women, but presently there are only three female employees in the organisation out of a total of 118. One of the allegations was that most projects approved during the last five years were awarded to relatives of the board of directors.

Former CEO Baqar said 80 per cent of the budget is spent on overhead expenses and the remaining 20 per cent is insufficient to meet the organisation’s objectives. The trust has 20 offices all over the country. “When I tried to shift TVO from administrative-oriented to people-oriented, I was removed within three months of my appointment without prior notice,” he said. “TVO is run according to the whims of some people rather than as per rules.”

Despite repeated attempts, the EAD secretary, who is one of the board members, was not available for comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.