ISLAMABAD: The country’s top auditors have found serious irregularities of over Rs9 billion in accounts of the Corona Emergency Fund (CEF) established by the Government of Sindh and recommended inquiries into some cases to fix the responsibility against those officials/functionaries who showed ‘negligence’ by misusing public money.
The audit objections, according to an audit report on the accounts of Covid-19-related expenditures of the Government of Sindh, exposed negligence and weaknesses of government functionaries, highlighting scores of losses to the national exchequer, misuse of funds, irregular contracts to different companies, doubtful payments and the list goes on.
In this report laid before President Dr Arif Alvi, the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has observed a series of violations of rules and regulations and misuse of authority or over-payment of public funds and negligence.
Nearly Rs25 billion were released by the federal government to the provincial authorities to cope with the Corona pandemic in the province last year, where the authorities established quarantine/isolation centres, procured machinery, equipped hospitals with PPEs as prevention measures and released funds for the poor.
The audit team in its report stated that the government functionaries have not produced record of nearly Rs1 billion acquired for the purchase of ration and establishment of quarantine centres in nearly 24 districts of Sindh. No bills and receipts were handed over to the auditors, revealed the report, which stated the Finance Department released the said amount on abstract bills only.
“Irregular procurements of Rs776 million were made by the health authorities without having any agreement with the clients,” observed the report, revealing that the officials also did not produce details of accounts along with bills. The auditors also observed that the provincial authorities acquired ration bags of Rs911 million without observing basic requirements of the SOPs, questioning the process of this procurement made by the deputy commissioners of some 13 districts.
An amount of Rs864 million was paid to various vendors without having any need assessment, according to the audit report, also being shared with Governor Sindh Imran Ismail. The provincial authorities, according to the audit team, paid this amount (Rs864 million) to different vendors, some of them were even not registered, to acquire corona-related equipment. The provincial government hired the services of private companies to procure most of the medicines, medical instruments, etc, according to the audit report.
The audit team showed wasteful expenditure of Rs500 million on account of purchase of PCR kits from different companies by the provincial authorities. The auditors recommended the authorities to investigate this matter and how some firms were given favour and how such a huge amount proved wasteful.
An amount of Rs291 million was obtained on account of Covid-19-related material without forming a procurement committee and irregular payments of Rs466 million were made in the procurement of non-medical items/supplies, according to the audit team.
The auditors in their findings also recommended the authorities to investigate a contract of Rs216 million awarded on higher value, ignoring the market value of this contract. The team also recommended an inquiry against wasteful expenditure of Rs153 million on account of purchase of PCR machines and their kits. The team also pointed out that an irregular award of contract of Rs490 million given to a private company. The auditors want a departmental inquiry into this award of contract.
Accounts' examiners also noted losses to the government’s exchequer due to excess rate allowed against purchase of items worth Rs115 million. The auditors say that the authorities did not surrender savings worth Rs184 million, while an amount of Rs145 million was withdrawn on account of expenditures for corona-related material without having any formal contract agreement with the firms and companies.
The auditors also registered an irregular payment of Rs120 million through district administrations registering non-obtaining of performance guarantee to cover defect liabilities worth Rs117 million. They also exposed loss to the government due to payment of taxes of Rs57 million on behalf of vendors and non-deduction of taxes worth Rs127 million.
An unauthorised payment of Rs86 million was made to unregistered suppliers and engagement of vendor, who got Rs83 million without having any MoU, and agreement with a private company was noted by the auditors.
Irregular cash payments/expenditures of Rs70 million and Rs33 million and unbalanced creation of liability of Rs50 million were also noted in this auditors report which registered unauthorised and unnecessary expenditure of Rs4.2 million on printing material from a private company. The report also noted loss of Rs23 million due to less deduction of GST, irregular expenditures of Rs22 million, Rs20 million of irregular expenditure without fulfilling any official formalities, irregular expenditure of Rs33 million in violation of SOPs and an uneconomical purchase of Rs31 million of patient monitors.