Punjab audit report 2008-09 456 irregularities cost Rs7.14bn to exchequer

Punjab governmentLAHORE: Most of the 456 financial indiscipline having a cost effect of Rs7.14 billion in the 2008-09 accounts of six Punjab government departments were due to either absence of, or weak internal controls and lack of monitoring system, according to an auditor-general of Pakistan report.

The irregularities surfaced when the auditor-general audited in 2009-10 the accounts of Communications and Works Department, Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department, Irrigation and Power Department, Local Government and Community Development Department, Planning and Development Department (Cholistan Development Authority) besides Environment Protection Department (Kasur Tannery Pollution Control Project).The report exposes the efficiency of the Shahbaz Sharif’s government which takes pride in ‘good financial control’.

The audit report said the Punjab government departments could not ensure the enforcement of adequate internal control in their organisations, resulting in consequential effects of financial indiscipline to the tune of Rs7.14 billion. The reports contain observations finalised in the light of written responses and discussions with the principal accounting officers concerned in the departmental accounts committee meetings.Internal controls are the set of rules, regulations, technical memos, policy instructions and standard operating procedures which have been prescribed by the departments or organisations for efficient operation and economic development activities in the domain of works affairs.

Submitted to the Punjab governor in February last year for presenting the same before the provincial assembly, the report highlights 159 instances of breach of inbuilt internal control having cost effect of Rs497.250 million in project management.The report speaks volumes of the efficiency of the Punjab government: there are 53 cases of loose financial management having cost effect of Rs4.88 billion; another 19 instances of abrupt changes in design or scope of works led to audit observations of Rs118.461 million; the report finds worth of Rs357.127 million some 16 violations of bill of quantities; government’s interest was not taken care of in 52 cases and this laxity in implementation of management controls cost Rs655.114 million to the exchequer. Also 166 instances of non-recovery of Rs624.232 million have been included in the report where regularity, assessment and control measures were not followed. Except for the Local Government and Community Development Department, none could utilise all of its budget allocations.

Of an annual budget of Rs93.65 billion, the Communications and Works Department could utilise Rs55.49 billion (59.24 per cent) while 81.96 per cent (Rs45.479.844 billion) of its total expenditure was audited.The Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department had a budget of Rs26.09 billion. It utilised 72.83 per cent (Rs19 billion) while 30 per cent (Rs5.74 billion) of its total expenditure was audited.

The Irrigation and Power Department utilised 94.59 per cent (Rs6.35 billion) of its Rs6.71 billion budget while 70.6 per cent (Rs4.48 billion) of the total expenditure was audited.The Planning and Development Department’s Cholistan Development Authority had a budget of Rs998.433 million. It could utilise 44 per cent (Rs439.342 million) while only 10 per cent (Rs43.934 million of its total expenditure was audited.The Environment Protection Department’s Kasur Tannery Pollution Control Project utilised 64 per cent (Rs17.826 million) of it Rs27.75 million budget which was audited, said the report. – Dawn