ISLAMABAD: Members of the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday mocked head of the state for a simple reason that President Mamnoon Hussain did not have enough opportunities to visit abroad.
The office of the Auditor General of Pakistan pointed out in the PAC meeting that the Foreign Office did not spend Rs143 million out of the allocated budget of Rs270 million for the president’s foreign visits.
For FY2015-16, parliament had approved Rs270 million as charged expenditures of the Foreign Office to meet the expenses of president’s foreign visits. However the actual spending stood at Rs127.2 million, according to the audit brief. The saving was 52.8% of the allocated budget.
“In that year, the president visited only Turkey,” said Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.
“The president never came down from the staircase of the presidency,” scorned Sheikh Rohail Asghar of the PML-N.
When somebody said that the president often goes to perform Umrah, Sheikh Rohail again took a jibe and said that the president even performs Umrah here in the country.
After the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the president’s role has been reduced to a symbolic head of the state and most of the responsibilities of the government are now performed by the prime minister.
The acting chairman of the PAC, Syed Naveed Qamar, ignored the remarks of Sheikh Rohail Asghar and settled the audit objection.
Parliament had approved a total budget of Rs2.15 billion for meeting the expenditures related to foreign visits of the prime minister and the president.
The finance ministry had also issued a supplementary grant of Rs328.8 million to meet the expenditures of the prime minister’s foreign visits.
After including the supplementary budget, the prime minister’s foreign visits budget was increased to Rs2.2 billion. Out of this revised sum, the Foreign Office showed Rs23.2 million savings against the prime minister related allocations.
The Foreign Office said that the Rs23.2 million saving was because of reduction in the size of delegation that travelled with the prime minister in FY2015-16.
NADRA’s shoddy affairs
The federal auditors also unmasked Rs191.2 million worth shoddy procurement deals by the National Database and Registration Authority.
Instead of taking the head of the procurement department, Nadra Chairman Usman Mobin tried to cover up the issue during the PAC meeting.
The auditors informed the PAC that Nadra procured arms licence booklets at Rs73.4 million higher than the lowest quoted rates. Nadra opened the financial bids even before technically qualifying the bidders, which was a serious violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Rules.
Interior Secretary Arshad Mirza admitted that irregularity was established at the inquiry stage. The Nadra Chairman said that head of the procurement was given a warning for this lapse –an answer that surprised many.
“The procurement was made in a shoddy manner and major penalty should be given to head of the procurement and other officers involved in it,” directed the acting PAC chairman.
He asked the interior secretary to report back after implementing the decision.
In yet another glaring violation, Nadra’s subsidiary NADRA Technologies Limited paid an amount of Rs70.9 million in bonuses to employees.
The federal auditors informed the PAC that those payments were irregular and amounted to 88% of the net profit of the subsidiary.
AGP Javed Jahangir said that the parameter to give bonuses was operational profits but the organisation violated this benchmark.
The Nadra chairman contested the audit claim but could not give plausible justification of the irregularity.
The PAC directed the AGP department and the interior ministry to sort out the issue at the level of Departmental Accounts Committee and report back to the PAC in two weeks. The AGP office also pointed out Rs56.3 million excess payments in procurement of lamination rolls. These rolls had been procured despite availability of six months inventory, according to the Director General Commercial Audit.
In this case too, the Interior Ministry tried to protect the culprits and gave only warning to them. The PAC asked the Secretary Interior to revisit the case and increase the penalty level.