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November 10, 2018
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Billion Tree Tsunami: Audit report publication a conspiracy: minister

National

November 10, 2018

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PESHAWAR: Provincial Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai has termed the publication of the ‘draft audit’ report that highlighted the alleged irregularities in its flagship Billion Tree Tsunami Project a conspiracy to malign the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led governments in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and at the Centre.

He was referring to the media reports about the audit report by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) that found Rs247.6 million financial irregularities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Department of Forestry, Environment and Wildlife during the financial year 2014-15. The AGP report noted that inefficiency on the part of officers and staff of the department caused huge losses to the national exchequer. It declared cash payments to labourers illegal under the Billion Tree Tsunami Project. It said saplings were purchased at a higher price than the one fixed in the PC-I. The audit report objected to payment of Rs43.55 million for the establishment of local office, saying that Rs21.22 million were paid to daily wagers and Rs22.33 million spent on the establishment of youth nurseries locally. Briefing members of the media, Shaukat Yousafzai said the government had decided to plant one billion more trees on which the federal and provincial governments would spend Rs27 billion.

The minister faced a barrage of questions on the issue of the alleged irregularities in the project as pinpointed by the audit report.

He questioned the timing of the report and expressed astonishment over the publication of what he called a “rudimentary” draft report.

The minister said he remained a member of the Public Accounts Committee of the provincial assembly and he had never heard of the publication of any draft audit report.

He said the audit report had only pointed out irregularities. He argued that it did not find any corruption on the part of the government or officials.

“The draft reports are thoroughly discussed and the audit paras are rectified accordingly. It is not final and the draft reports are not published. But the draft report in question was published on purpose,” the minister maintained.He said the World Economic Forum has termed the Billion Tree Tsunami Project as “green success story” in its publication.

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