ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has sought an inquiry report into the financial irregularities in the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, National Heritage and Culture Division including National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA).
The meeting of the PAC was held with the chair of its Chairman Noor Alam Khan which examined the audit paras related to Ministry of National Food Security and Research for the financial years 2020-21 and 2021-22 and National Heritage and Culture Division for the financial years 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The PAC also decided to invite the Attorney General on pending cases in the courts of law.
While examining the audit report of the Ministry of Food Security, the committee expressed its displeasure over the Ministry for not holding of the meetings of the Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) and refused to take the audit paras of the Ministry with directing the no audit para could be taken for the examination unless the DAC meeting held.
PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan asked for the reason for not holding the Departmental Accounting Committee meeting in 2022. “The audit para that are in front of us and the DAC on these audit objections were not held,” he said.
The PAC chairman also sought the details of the agricultural research conducted during the last ten years and the number and salaries of PhD researchers in the Agricultural Research Council and also asked for details of privileges provided to them. The PAC was of the opinion that salaries of crores of rupees are being paid but the output is zero.
Secretary National Food Security told the committee he assumed the charge of the Ministry in July last year and till then he has held meetings of the DACs.
PAC chairman said that Rs500 millions are being paid annually from the government treasury, but the government officials have not benefited the country. Chairman Agriculture Research Council while briefing PAC said that strawberry is also a research of agricultural scientists in the country.
PAC urged to focus on crops like wheat instead of strawberry. The committee members asked how many varieties of wheat or rice have been introduced in 10 years. PAC chairman said that there are many PhD holders in the country but there is no research in the agricultural sector.
Secretary National Food Security and Research told the committee that that they are spending 0.12% of GDP for agricultural research, which is less than all other countries in the region. While reviewing the audit report of the National Heritage and Culture Division in the meeting, the PAC sought the details of the investment made by the National Academy of Performing Arts. The audit officials told the meeting the National Academy of Performing Arts administration has no understanding of the financial rules and regulations.
In the meeting, irregularities of millions of rupees were revealed in the National Academy of Performing Arts and the audit officials told the committee that the academy board kept Rs300 million in two specific private banks against the rules.
The audit officials said under the law, no more than Rs100 million can be kept in a single bank. The head of NAPA told the committee that the investment is approved by NAPA’s Board of Directors and there is no irregularity in this investment.
The audit officials told the committee that NAPA does not have its own investment policy. The audit officials said the NAPA bought vehicles worth Rs10 million without approval of finance ministry. The NAPA officials replied that a request has now been made to the Finance Ministry for its approval and regularise the purchase of vehicles.
PAC chairman remarked that the government money should be in government bank. He instructed to the NAPA to provide all the records to the audit authorities. The PAC chairman said, “We have also sought the details of the agreement with IMF signed in 2019.” He remarked that the committee works for the country and even got offers but we rejected these offers. “But some people get annoyed that we take a stand against corruption,” he said.
While expressing his dismay over the courts for giving the stay orders restricting to take action against corrupt officers, PAC chairman remarked that the committee works for the country and stood against the corruption but unfortunately the corrupt gets stay from the courts. “Aren’t we a constitutional body. The Committee sent corruption cases of billions of rupees to NAB but the NAB progress is slow on them,” he said. He said notices has been served to him to catch the corruption. “The PAC is sincerely working against corrupt practices and even sought the money trail from One Constitution Avenue,” he said.
While examining another audit para the audit officials told the committee that NAPA bought diesel generator for Rs88 lakh for which additional Rs38 lakh was given.
PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan directed to fix responsibility in this and recovery should be done from the officer.