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February 20, 2020

Finance Ministry ill-planning: Rs411 bn funds couldn’t be utilised in 2018

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February 20, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The audit officials told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that due to ill-planning of the Finance Ministry, funds of Rs411 billion were not utilised during the year 2018 and on the other side supplementary budget of billions of rupees was also granted in the same year.

The government on Wednesday informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the tax collection could go up to Rs4.8 to 4.9 trillion with the growth of 17 to 18 percent during the current fiscal year but on condition, if the tax collection increased in last two months of the current financial year. It was also told to the Public Accounts Committee, in a meeting held here Wednesday under its Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain, that Rs2.9 trillion were allocated for the debt payment during the ongoing current fiscal year.

Briefing PAC, Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch told to the committee that a revenue growth of 16 to 17 percent achieved while the improvement in collection of non-tax revenue and efforts were being made for further improvement.

PAC member Khawaja Muhammad Asif did not agree to the remarks of secretary finance with regard to increase in tax revenue in last quarter of the current fiscal year and said that since last 70 years, the revenue growths had been increased only because of tax refunds and collecting advance tax. “Secretary finance was talking about the record collection in last quarter of the fiscal year always wrong,” he said.

The secretary finance suggested if the committee wanted to get further details about the tax collection, it would be better to get a briefing from the officials of the FBR.

To a query of Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq about the hot money with regard to foreign investment and increase in the remittance, the secretary finance replied that portfolio investment was only of the mandate of State Bank of Pakistan, and he could not say anything about it.

Khawaja Asif remarked that the committee should summon State Bank of Pakistan governor and question him who were investing in the name of portfolio investment and getting the profits as such a high profits.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq remarked that investment in the month of May 2019 was about $1.9 billion that now it increased to $3 billion and increase in the reserves of the Stat Bank of Pakistan could only be possible through this hot money.

The committee inquired about the foreign exchange reserves of the Stat Bank of Pakistan and on which secretary finance replied that it has foreign exchange reserves of $12.5 billion.

PAC Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain said due to ill planning of the government, the inflation has reached over 14.6 percent.

While earlier briefing, Auditor General of Pakistan Javed Jehangir gave the detailed briefing to the committee on the financial accounts of the government for year 2017-18.

Auditor General of Pakistan Javed Jehangir told the committee that still 15 to 20 departments were reluctant to audit from the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan that includes SECP, Nadra, Islamabad Gun Club, PMDC and other seven departments.

He told the committee those who not ready to audit their accounts from the office of Auditor General of Pakistan were of the view that they did not get the funds from the government and have financial autonomy.

He further told the committee that the Engineering Council of Pakistan is attached department of the Ministry of Science and Technology, but it was not ready for the audit from the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan despite the clear verdict of the Supreme Court that all the departments of the government should be audited from the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan.

The officials of the Engineering Council of Pakistan told the committee that they were conducting the audit from commercial Chartered Accountant firm for the last 40 years and there was no need for the audit from the department of Auditor General of Pakistan.

The Auditor General of Pakistan also revealed that the National Bank of Pakistan was also conducting the audit from the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan and even got a stay from the courts if law for last two years in this regard.

He said the audit from the auditor general of Pakistan is also necessary with the audit from the commercial firms as if the Parliamentary oversight was not done then serious constitutional problems could be come up. The PAC directed the Engineering Council Pakistan to submit their audit report to the Auditor General of Pakistan.