Audit authorities detected embezzlement worth Rs3.331 billion on account of mismanagement, losses and irregularities in the accounts of the Higher Education Commission.
An Auditor General of Pakistan report raised 51 objections on the HEC’s account. Out of the total 22 pertain to the irregularities and non-compliance, 29 to the internal control weaknesses and one highlights a fraud involving 12 laptops.
The audit report made several observations in five categories including irregular awards of work costing Rs2.69 billion, non-recovery worth Rs153.53 million, loss to the commission of Rs107.68 million, overpayments worth Rs93.93 million, unjustified payments of Rs76.26 million to contractors, non-imposition of liquid damages and non-obtaining of insurances amounting to Rs 105 million and misappropriation of 12 laptops worth Rs 1million.
It further stated that various universities awarded contracts worth Rs 2,696.54 million to blue-eyed contractors overlooking the procedure laid down by Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).
Due to the negligence of different universities’ officials, the commission suffered a loss of Rs93.93 million on account of overpayments, such as payment of house rent on higher rates, non-deduction of rebate, inclusion of extra amounts in items’ rates and on account of price escalation of material and others.
The report also observed that the HEC suffered a loss of Rs107.68 million which it incurred because all PhD scholars did not return upon completing their degrees abroad.
According to the audit report, the HEC officials could not recover Rs153.93 million due to non-encashment of performance security on default of contractors and risk and cost charges.
A number of unjustified payments worth Rs76.26 million were made to contractors, including the non-execution of Bill of Quantities item, extraordinary change in the scope of work and extra expenditures in different projects.
The report identified the misappropriations and mismanagement of more than Rs10 million in the HEC accounts due to the giving away of contracts without the arrangement of competition and non-obtaining of insurances.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.