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January 10, 2015

‘Generous’ BISE Mirpurkhas warned of disciplinary action

Karachi

 
January 10, 2015

Karachi
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Sindh Assembly on Friday warned officials of the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) in Mirpurkhas of disciplinary action if found involved in spurious disbursement of allowances and extension of leave encashment to the board’s employees.
The reprimand followed after review of six audit objections amounting to Rs17.88 million from the report of BISE Mirpurkhas for its accounts’ records for the financial year 2008-9.
The PAC deferred five audit objections and settled only one audit para pertaining to accounts’ records amounting to Rs883,000.
The PAC chairman Saleem Raza Jalbani, an MPA belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, gave 15 days to BISE Mirpurkhas for providing the relevant information and documents regarding rules and regulations of the board to prove that it was fully authorised to disburse allowances and provide of leave encashment to its employees.
He said after 15 days, the BISE officials will be given a chance to appear before the PAC sub-committee and prove that disbursal of allowances and provision of leave encashment was in accordance with the board’s financial mandate and rules.
He said the sub-committee’s upcoming meeting will be attended by the Sindh law secretary and provincial finance officials will also determine as to how autonomous the BISE was in its monetary affairs and whether or not it could provide incentives to its employees in contravention to government’s fiscal regulations.
The PAC chairman said the matter was important because the examination board belonged to the Mirpurkhas division, which was no more a purely rural division and also contained areas such as Thar for whose uplift the government has been allocating special funds and efforts.
At one stage during the PAC meeting, the committee chairman observed that the autonomous manner in which the BISE Mirpurkhas had been carrying out its financial affairs, it

seemed that financial laws of the land were no more applicable to the board.
Committee member Syed Sardar Ali Shah, also an MPA of the ruling PPP, remarked that in reality the BISE was “autonomously” working only in conducting intermediate and secondary education level annual exams. He said as such examinations in Mirpurkhas were not being conducted in a fair, disciplined and regulated manner with several public complaints being received regarding invigilation officials conniving with students for using unfair means.
Shah recalled an instance when a BISE clerk had embezzled examination fee of a large number of candidates depriving them of the chance to appear in papers with no disciplinary action against him for jeopardising the academic career of a large number of students.
The harsh observations came as the PAC discussed audit paras pertaining to disbursal of Rs5.98 million as payment of leave encashment and Rs6.73 million as irregular payment of different allowances to the board’s employees during financial year 2008-09.
The audit para pertaining to the payment of leave encashment also contained an observation that a sum had been paid to employees on account of yearly leave encashment without proper authorisation. “Furthermore, leave accounts were not provided and all employees, including those on contract, drew encashment without justification. There was no approval of any competent authority for payment of such allowances. The approval criteria/policy from competent authority for payment of such encashment was also not provided to audit for authenticity of payment,” stated the remarks.
The audit and finance officials remarked at the meeting that with Rs5 million disbursed as leave encashment in a single year, the total sum paid as leave encashment paid by the board over the years will run into billions of rupees.
A audit official remarked that the board had paid leave encashment on yearly basis — by paying the entire take-home salary, including all allowances to the beneficiary employees — while the provincial government’s financial rules provided that leave encashment was only for retiring employees and only basic salary of the employee concerned will be paid.
The audit para related to irregular payment of allowances showed that the board in financial year 2008-09 had paid a sum of Rs6.73 million on irregular basis to its employees as senior post, over-time, utilities, cost of living, conveyance and medical allowances.
Defending the financial affairs of the board, Fasihuddin Khan of the BISE Mirpurkhas, informed the PAC members that payment of allowances and provision of leave encashment was in accordance with financial regulations of the board, which it had framed being an autonomous body and as mandated to it by the Sindh Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education Ordinance 1972.
The BISE chairman, who is also the chairman of Board of Secondary Education in Karachi, said the Mirpurkhas examination board was supposed to act autonomously in its financial affairs since it had never received any grant from the Sindh government.
He said the allowances and leave encashment had been provided to the board’s employees as special financial incentives, given the laborious duties and tasks they had to perform for conducting annual examinations. Under regular circumstances, he said, the employees had slim chances of promotion to senior grades and posts.
According to Khan, the BISE Mirpurkhas was not the only examination board to provide such financial incentives to its employees while framing its own rules. He said other education boards in the rest of the country also conducted their fiscal matters in similar manner and claimed that all such financial rules of the board had been framed after due approval of the competent authorities; previously the Sindh governor and now the chief minister.

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