If merit were the criteria for hiring, Sindh’s government offices would be virtually empty. At least this is what the audit report – the first in 10 years – of provincial district governments reveals for the fiscal year of 2010-11.
The auditor general of Pakistan has uncovered a massive number of fake appointments in different government departments of Sindh. Not only was the recruitment process desecrated, but millions of rupees were spent on under-aged recruits, who were not even eligible to be appointed to government posts.
For example, some jobs were “secretly” handed out to people in violation of government rules in Khairpur. The district health EDO hired around 98 employees from grades 2 to 9 (22 being the highest). They were paid salaries amounting to Rs9.408 million during 2010-11, according to the audit report available with The Express Tribune.
The posts were neither advertised in newspapers nor did the department hold interviews or written tests. When the auditors inquired about the illegal appointments, the officials could not give them a proper response.
The officials in Khairpur – the hometown of Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah – did not bother to follow the policy of appointing people above 18 years of age. A number of primary teachers appointed were under the prescribed age and were paid Rs8.763 million in salaries. The Education EDO was directed by the auditing authorities to submit a report explaining why, but all in vain.
The scandals do not stop here. The Naushero Feroze government appointed 65 people to different departments; 25 were posted at the office of the assistant district officer (education) in Bhiria and Kandiaro towns and 40 others were given jobs in the road sector. Around Rs7.44 million were paid in salaries to this staff.
The authorities couldn’t give a satisfactory answer to the auditors when they were quizzed about the selection process.
It was more of the same in the other districts where officials made up their own rules as they went along. The Sukkur district audit revealed, for example, that the administration had appointed around 22 employees to the education department and paid them Rs2.64 million in salaries. The district government of Qamber-Shahdadkot felt no compulsion in showing a lump sum amount of Rs81.85 million spent on salaries and other expenditures without breaking it down. These officials appointed so many people in violation of the merit criteria that they had to later increase their budget from the actual grant of Rs30 million.
Perhaps the roads department did not realise that their books may also be scrutinised. In collusion with local contractors, the Larkana district administration embezzled millions of rupees through a fraud. The roads district officer awarded the contract to repair the Rato Dero roads at an estimated cost of Rs10.72 million to be completed in 15 months. According to the audit report, the work on the main road was completed within 15 days. The district administration paid the contractor, stating he had done the work in double shifts. But the audit team has expressed concerns on the matter in the report.
Another scam was detected in the construction of the cadet college road, which was to be finished in 12 months. The contractor completed the carpeting within 40 days and the district administration paid him Rs14.766 million without examining the development.
Most of the bureaucrats are not only guilty of financial mismanagement, but some of them even pocketed the public money without any fear of accountability. The agriculture EDO in Larkana transferred Rs3.37 million from the public coffers into his personal account, according to the audit. The amount was meant to go to government contractors. During the inquiry, the officer failed to justify why he had transferred the money to his account.
Another similar case cropped up in Sukkur district, where the administrator collected Rs1.7 million during the fiscal year as shop rent, but did not deposit the sum in the government account.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2012.