NTS — systemic flaws


Transparency, particularly financial transparency, is seemingly not a priority for the NTS. PHOTO: REUTERS

Transparency, particularly financial transparency, is seemingly not a priority for the NTS. PHOTO: REUTERS

There is considerable irony attached to the findings of the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan in respect of the financial management of the National Testing Service (NTS). The NTS is one of the lead agencies when it comes to the recruitment to government agencies and posts, particularly in education where it was supposed to bring credibility and transparency to a range of academic and professional assessments — always a weak area in Pakistan. Founded in 2002 its website glows with self-appreciation where it lists ‘transparency’ as its lead standard. It has become a respected institution among a welter of corrupt or inept agencies and held up as something of a national exemplar. Not according to the SECP.

Transparency, particularly financial transparency, is seemingly not a priority for the NTS. The SECP has unearthed a range of financial irregularitiers (all denied as such by the NTS) in its annual audit. If this is the first time these irregularities have been discovered then there are questions also for the SECP — as in have these suddenly appeared or were they evident in the past and if so then why were they not headline news then? Irregularities such as being alleged by the SECP do not grow overnight like mushrooms. According to the SECP audit, the NTS is captalising, and very successfully, its funds rather than using them for its stated objectives. There is an inconsistency between the direct organisational expenses and its total revenue; there are questionable consultancy charges/payments; the organisation has huge liquid reserves indicative of capitalisation; a questionable interest-free loan to Comsats — the list goes on. This is not a matter of poor management of the petty-cash box; this is indicative of corrupt practice — or at least practice outside the operational norms of the organisation — that calls into doubt the probity of one of the few supposedly ‘clean’ organisations of Pakistan. It is not enough for the NTS to pooh-pooh the SECP report. If the NTS really is clean, then it needs to furnish more than a simple rebuttal to the SECP audit. And soon.


Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1164833/nts-systemic-flaws/