Friday January 27, 2023

Rs327m irregularities detected in KP culture, tourism dept

November 29, 2022

PESHAWAR: The Auditor General of Pakistan has detected irregularities and anomalies totaling Rs 327.876 million in the affairs of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture and Tourism Authority (KPCTA) during 2021–22.

The authority distributed defective USBs worth Rs13.162 million during the Dubai Expo-2020, defaming the country. Serious irregularities have also been found in the appointment of about 74 officials of the authority. The auditors have declared that the lapses occurred due to favouritism and a violation of merit.

The audit recommends termination and disciplinary action against those responsible. A KPCTA official told this correspondent that the audit report was submitted without a proper exit meeting, which has been seen as a deviation from the previous practices of the audit department. A letter has been sent to the officials, instructing them to direct their team to discuss the paragraphs by procedures, and the authority to be allowed to present its official stance. He said that most of the objections would be addressed in the departmental accounts committee meeting.

According to the report, which is available to this scribe, 15,000 USBs worth Rs13,162 were purchased for the Dubai Expo 2020. The inspection committee rejected the entire supply due to technical problems, but the same was distributed at the Dubai Expo. The audit held that the three-member inspection team rejected the USBs; hence, the release of payment is nothing but a fraudulent payment, which needs proper investigation. The audit believes that instead of promoting culture and tourism, the authority defamed the identity of the KP by distributing faulty USBs.

During the Dubai Expo, 10 officials drew foreign TA/DA over and above their entitlement, including MD Kamran Afridi, Yousaf Ali, Sajjad Hameed, Amjad Khalil, Hassina Shaukat, Mahd Hasnain, Waqar Ahmad, Anique Majid, Saad Bin Awais, and Amir Khan. The official was entitled to 30% DA, but they have drawn 100% daily allowance, thus causing a Rs 8.596 million loss to the national exchequer. The audit recommends recovering the additional amount from the officials.

The report says an advertising agency was given the contract for event management at the Dubai Expo. The company is registered with FBR as an advertising company, and the said firm is already working with KPCTA as an advertising agency. Hence, the award for event management was unfair. A huge amount of remuneration was paid to singers and anchors. One singer was paid Rs3 million for one day. The audit recommends investigations and appropriate action.

It was noticed that the event management firm was responsible for the arrangement of items as per the schedule of requirements, including remuneration to the singers and cultural troupe. The quotation submitted by the agency includes remuneration to be paid to the dance troupes, anchorpersons, and singers, but on the other hand, the management also drew payment for these singers and performers for Rs 2.676 million from the ADP and retained it in the form of a demand draft before the event. Thus, management drew a double payment, and the audit recommends recovery of the payment.

It was observed that a scrutiny committee was assigned to submit a report regarding the candidates who had applied for the different posts. The committee identified serious discrepancies in 55 candidates, but the management ignored the report and appointed candidates who did not meet the requisite criteria. These include GM Investment, Manager Culture, Deputy Manager Research, Deputy Manager Tourism, Contract Specialist, and others. The irrelevant experience was used to recruit them. The lapses occurred due to favouritism and a violation of merit. The audit recommends employees termination and disciplinary action against those responsible.

The report says that the 13 clerical staff and 15 class-IV staff were appointed from other districts instead of Peshawar. This violation deprived local people of their legitimate rights and promoted nepotism and favoritism. The lapse occurred due to non-adherence to rules and regulations regarding appointments. Under the implied intimation of audit, the audit recommends investigating the responsible party.

The audit report says that the CTA authority seems to be merely a job-providing organisation that has nothing to contribute to tourism and culture, as out of 169 government rest houses, only 17 were leased out. Similarly, PTC hotels and motels in the KP that were handed over to the federal government for further leasing out were never operationalised or leased out. The lapse occurred due to weak internal control, negligence, and a lack of interest by the senior management in the affairs of the KPCTA business.

It was noticed that a work order was issued to a company for the supply of various IT equipment (laptops, desktops, laser printers, etc.) amounting to Rs 19.525 million. The audit found that a market survey, i.e., due diligence as required under the KPPRA Act, and a fair price certificate, were not obtained from the suppliers. Moreover, the supplier had already been working with the authority as the framework contractor for a long time, and it seems that the management was favouring the supplier because well-known firms are providing IT equipment. How is it possible that only one bidder submitted a bid? For economy and fair play, one bidder was not enough. The audit recommends conducting an investigation and assigning blame to those involved.

It was observed that advertisements for the post of assistant APS-16 were made asking for at least three years of relevant experience, contrary to KPCTA Regulation 2020, which clearly states that “at least five years of relevant experience with computer proficiency were required.” The four assistants appointed had little or no experience, so space was left in the advertisement to allow for the selection of a less experienced candidate, in violation of Regulations 2020.

It was reported that the authority, without any approval, has created a pool for marinating luxury vehicles, including the KIA Sportage, Toyota Fortuner, and Honda Civic. The audit apprehended that these vehicles might have been misused by the competent authority. It was further noticed that if these vehicles were not required for proper allotment to officers, they may be returned to the transport department for proper utilisation.

It was observed that two vehicles were shown under the use of the KPCTA DG, i.e., a Honda Civic (Oriel) and a Toyota Fortuner; however, as per rules, government officers irrespective of their rank or status shall be entitled to use only one vehicle, hence the use of two vehicles was unauthorised. Moreover, the DG consumed fuel over and above its ceiling, i.e., 150 liters per month, for local duties.

The KPCTA DG was allotted a fleet card by fixing the limit at 500 liters per month for local duties and thus consumed 350 liters per month over and above the limit, amounting to Rs296.938.

The certificate provided by the generator operator stated that the maximum actual consumption of the generator was 16 liters per hour. Verification of the logbook from October 2021 to June 2022 revealed 220 running hours and 7,955 liters of diesel consumed. On the other hand, the maximum consumption of 200 KVA generators was 16, which should have consumed 3,520 liters of diesel instead of 7955 liters. Thus, a doubtful consumption of 4,435 liters, amounting to Rs833, 780, was recorded.

It was noticed by the auditors that around Rs 99.963 million were incurred on holding the Shandur Polo Festival, and the monitoring team raised serious questions over the expenditures. Low-quality items were provided during the tent village. The management of the KPCTA was bound to stick to the allocated budget of Rs60,000 as per PC-I, but contrary to that, a sum of Rs.100,000 million spent on the festival resulted in incurring an excess expenditure of Rs. 40,000 million over and above the allocation of the PC-I.