ISLAMABAD: Meals served to parliamentarians and journalists covering the National Assembly during the 2009-10 budget session cost Rs11.57 million to the national exchequer.
A budget session normally runs for 15 to 20 days and it has been a practice that the government serves meals during the session to parliamentarians and reporters covering the proceedings.
This time around, however, during the 2010-11 budget session journalists refused to avail the official luxury to avoid being pointed out as part of this practice.
In the audit report for the 2009-10 tabled in the senate on Tuesday the office of auditor general of Pakistan objected that funds spent for this purpose by the finance division were not allocated for such luxuries.
Moreover the AGP office also objected that the concerned authorities did not obtain competitive bidding as required in the Public Procurement Rules, framed in 2004 before giving the contract to a particular food outlet. In their response the concerned department stated that the practice was started four years ago on the directives of then finance minister. AGP remained dissatisfied with the reply and sent the audit paragraph to the Public Accounts Committee for further probe.
The audit report also pointed out another glaring irregularity whereby six luxurious bulletproof vehicles were used by non-government functionaries for more than two years and that their maintenance and repair was carried out from tax-payers’ money.
In its audit for the accounts of the cabinet division, it was pointed out that prime minister’s secretariat in a letter dated May 26, 2008 issued an order for returning 33 bulletproof vehicles held by the prime minister’s secretariat. However, these vehicles were not physically handed over to the cabinet division.
Six out of these 33 bulletproof vehicles, had been in the use of non-governmental functionaries for more than two years, the AGP said, adding that the use of these vehicles was open misuse at the public’s expense. However, the audit report did not mention the names of the persons who were allocated these vehicles.
In their response the cabinet division stated that the prime minister had allocated the bulletproof vehicles and thus no separate rules were required to regulate the use of such. It further said that the vehicles were provided to high level dignitaries in view of the law and order situation. The AGP office was once again not satisfied with their response and decided to send the para to the PAC for further probing.
The audit report for the year 2009-10, in which eight per cent of the accounts of a government department, on average, come under random audit, pointed out irregularities worth Rs2.5 billion in the accounts departments coming under the domain of the ministry of defence and the ministry of defence production.
The audit report said that they carried out an audit of 167 out of 3,579 formations under the Defence Division and 25 out of the 44 productions and procurement agencies of the Defence Production division on what the report called the “test basis” during July to October 2009.
The defence division, under the ministry of defence, administers matters relating to the army, navy, air force, ministry of engineering services, inter services organisations, military lands, cantonments and federal government educational institutions.
The defence production division under the ministry of defence production deals with production, procurement, research and development related matters of the defence sector.
The report said that a total of 454 “serious observations” were issued by the AGP office to principal accounting officers of concerned departments coming under these ministries. Out of these 428 were discussed in the departmental accounts committee (DAC) meetings while both ministries failed to hold DAC meetings on the rest of the observations despite repeated request by the AGP office.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2010.
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