Something fishy

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The Auditor General of Pakistan is mandated by the President of Pakistan as the financial sentinel of the country to monitor federal and provincial ministries and submit impartial reports on their working to Parliamentary Public Account Committees. The goals of this exercise are good governance, legislative supremacy and ensuring that statutory regulations are strictly followed and fair play observed in the outlay of hard-gotten public funds. It would appear to be a peaceful occupation, but some of the AGP findings send shivers down the spines of the general public. Brazen violation of rules, wilful misuse, mismanagement, wastefulness and splurging are the lesser evils, overshadowed by outright theft, misappropriation, frauds and conspiratorial manipulation by well-entrenched mafias, in short a thriving culture of corruption.

The report for 2016-2017 does not disappoint in this sense. The office has unearthed, under the euphemistic labels  ‘weak’ or ‘unsound’ financial and asset management, ‘weak internal financial controls’, ‘overpayments’ and ‘misappropriation of public funds’, massive corruption and incompetence in 36 departments to the tune of Rs.3.12 trillion. And this ill-information was gleaned not by a comprehensive audit but a ’test-case’ random sampling of the concerned departments and the remaining ministries and divisions would no doubt reveal a similar upshot when subjected to the AGP X-ray treatment.

Briefly, there were found 123 cases of irregular expenditure or payment, 33 cases of weak financial management, 52 cases of unsound asset management and 78 cases of weak internal financial control, costing the national exchequer Rs.876 billion, Rs.1.9 trillion, Rs.9.5 billion, and Rs.1.53 trillion respectively, apart from misappropriation or overpayments of Rs.730 billion! During this period, the Finance Ministry also sanctioned emergency supplementary grants, of which only Rs.261 billion were tabled in Parliament for approval, and Rs.838 billion were illegally not represented, while the Ministry was also unable to reconcile the ‘miniscule’ sum of Rs.656 billion, which the Auditor General Office termed ‘high risk’. The Finance Ministry and the Accountant General Pakistan Revenue must bear the brunt of the blame for this sorry state of affairs, being responsible for oversight and sound financial management of ministries and departments.Courtesy pakistantoday.

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