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Ehsaas comes out clean in COVID-19 AGP audit

By Our Correspondent
November 30, 2021

Islamabad: Remarkably enough, Ehsaas Emergency Cash—despite being the biggest social protection package in Pakistan’s history, and an intervention involving huge disbursements to the tune of Rs179 billion in the most difficult circumstances, has come out clean in the Auditor General of Pakistan’s report on the expenditure incurred on COVID-19 by the federal government.

There is not a single reference to malpractice and corruption in the Ehsaas Emergency Cash audit, which included various agencies involved in the response to COVID-19, including NDMA, relevant ministries, USC, as well as BISP, which executed the Ehsaas Emergency Cash.

The audit report evades important facts; it does not say upfront that there was no corruption, no malpractice, no mis-procurement, and no procurement violations despite the expenditure of Rs179 billion in one go. The audit should also have mentioned that there was no violation of rules and no financial mismanagement, no loss to the exchequer, no wasteful expenditure, no overpayments, no unauthorized retention, no violation of the law, and no instances of “nonproduction of records” identified within BISP in relation to the execution of Ehsaas Emergency Cash.

On a close reading of the 10 ‘audit paras’ (audit observations) regarding Ehsaas, which were outlined in the audit report and the clarifications by BISP which were published later, the 10 audit paras can be classified in four categories.

In the first category, audit was questioning Cabinet decisions regarding inclusion and exclusion filters. For example, they raised that people receiving Zakat and tax filers were included in EEC, not realising that these filters were not exclusion filters approved by the Cabinet. The Cabinet, in its wisdom, made the right decision of giving relief those whose livelihoods had been affected during lockdowns.