Auditor finds over Rs. 15 trillion irregularities by ministries during 2017-18

This year’s audit objections are 87% greater than those of last year.

The Auditor General of Pakistan (AG) has found irregularities of more than Rs. 15.67 trillion by federal ministers and divisions during the year 2018-19. The large number is said to be all public money.

While the AGP showcased its review before the parliament, as per Article 171 of the Constitution, a number of violations of rules and regularities were highlighted. Other than that embezzlement, overpayment of public funds, negligence, and weak internal control were also under the spotlight. The funds reviewed were of the fiscal year 2017-18, which is being referred to as the audit year 2018-19.

This year’s audit objections are 87% greater than those of last year. The audit objections stood at Rs. 5.8 trillion before. This shows that the control over public money has decreased rather than improving or that the AGP office was too busy in procedural niceties under orthodox rules and regulations.

This can be seen by the fact that $2 billion international bonds at 8.25pc and 7.25pc interest were raised by the government, this was done so at the permission of the Prime Minister other than the federal cabinet which is required as per the rules. The audit was opposed to the higher rate, but the whole Rs. 280 billion were labeled irregular and unauthorized without raising the question if the funds were actually justified and right.

Regularized by the Public Accounts Committee:

Consequently, such big-ticket items have been regularized by the Public Accounts Committee since they barely ever involve embezzlement or corruption. This is evident from the fact that out of Rs. 15.67 trillion that attracted reported fraud cases, audit objections, misuse of public resources and embezzlement involved a small amount of Rs. 862 million. But cases of unimpressive fiscal management were highlighted by AGP.

In the report by AGP, it was also put on record that its findings were on entirely based on observations of public funds of 40 out of 50 federal entities, and it did not conceal amounts below Rs. 1 million that was received or spent by these entities. It stated that amount of Rs. 4.9 billion was recovered during the year (which is under review) at auditor’s instance and deposited in the federal consolidated fund.

A total of 39 cases of fragile internal control were reported, which amounted to Rs. 14.56 trillion. This involved a number of ministries and divisions and associated foreign entities. Some of them were involved in 51 cases regarding weak financial management that involve an amount of Rs. 14.735 trillion. Other than that, 237 cases that involved Rs. 293 billion were also put a spotlight on, which involved irregular expenditures or payments in rules violation.

However, 56 cases of recovery that amounted to Rs. 186 billion were also there, while records regarding Rs. 1.06 billion in four cases weren’t produced on auditor’s demand.

The AGP asked questions regarding the misrepresentation of more than Rs. 9.96 trillion worth of supplementary grants by AGPR (Ministry of Finance and Accountant General of Pakistan Review). These are mandatory to confirm thorough financial management of the federal government.

AGP was concerned over ministries and divisions unwillingness to hand over their savings worth Rs. 411 billion, this resulted in a lapse of funds, which is a violation of financial rules.

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