ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday made it clear that each and every department/organization consuming the government funds would have to respond to audit objections and no one was exception.
The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee which met with its chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan in the chair was told that 16 departments of the government, including Frontier Works Organisation, NADRA and National Press Trust, were not cooperating with the auditor general of Pakistan and claiming independence. Two organisations – Virtual University Lahore and Pakistan Poverty-alleviation Fund – showed consent in connection with audit of their accounts by the auditor general of Pakistan on the PAC directives.
The remaining 14 organisations took the plea that they were independent private organisations, so the government rules and regulations did not apply to them.Nadeem Afzal Chan remarked that any organisation or department which consumed the government funds was bound to get its accounts audited by the AGPR. “You have full support of the Public Accounts Committee. We appreciate your work and will summon representatives of such departments and organisations to answer the audit objections raised by auditors,” Chan said while talking to the AGPR representatives.
Auditor General Buland Akhtar Rana said two units of the Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) had refused to get their accounts audited.The auditor general said that billions of rupees of Taxila Heavy Industries were not deposited in the state accounts. The PAC directed the defence secretary to ensure in writing that the money would be deposited in the state accounts in future. The Public Accounts Committee issued notices to the officials of the Presidency, the Prime Minister’s House and the Supreme Court of Pakistan to appear before it to give reply to audit objections.
The PAC also issued a special directive to the Supreme Court registrar to appear in December’s second week to clarify his position for not giving reply to audit objections. The PAC also directed Frontier Works Organisation, NADRA and National Press Trust to explain their stance in the second week of December. During the meeting, the objections about audit of accounts of the Ministry of Defence Production and other ministries for the year 2004-05 and 2006-07 came under discussion. The meeting was told that funds worth billions of rupees had not been kept in the accounts of government banks. The committee directed Defence Production Secretary Lt-Gen Shahid Iqbal to present a report on these accounts to the committee.
The committee decided to declare its decision regarding allotment of two plots to government officers on December 4. Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) expressed its indignation over the losses of millions of rupees of the Ministry of Defence Production (MODP) and directed the officials to expedite the recovery. The PAC chairman said the rules must be followed while procuring any item or inking any agreement. The Public Accounts Committee asked the 14 defying departments to allow audit by the AGPR as 18th Amendment had empowered it to conduct audit of all the departments running under government or drawing funds from it.
He also directed the authorities to issue a notice to Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) to appear before the committee for settling the issue of audit.The IT joint secretary told the PAC that the rules did not permit audit of PTCL. Of 10 members of the PTCL Board of Directors (BoD), four represent the government and six represent Etisalat. The PAC observed that the agreement inked with the Etisalat was anti-Pakistan. The Defence Production secretary said the audit of two departments – Wah Noble Private and Pakistan Ordinance Factories Welfare – could not be conducted due to its independent and private nature.
The PAC chairman said the issue must be settled bilaterally otherwise a reference would be filed in the Parliament seeking directions in this regard.The PAC observed that GE (DP) Taxila paid Rs 17.99 million as penalty from July 2003 to June 2006 for not maintaining the factory. It gave one-month time to settle the issue. An official said efforts were underway to settle the issue with IESCO to adjust the said amount in future bills.
The committee also gave two-week time to National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) to settle the issue of recovery of Rs 6.263 million from PTCL. The Defence Production secretary said 98 percent amount had already been recovered and only Rs 300,000 were recoverable. The PAC directed the Ministry of Defence Production to follow the rules while procuring equipment from the registered firms which were paying sales tax to the government. It expressed its indignation over the losses of $ 9.5 million to the national exchequer for indigenous manufacturing of two tug boats in 1999. – Naton