ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has pointed out loopholes in the financial affairs of the Press Information Department (PID), disclosing various irregularities during the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The ongoing audit for the fiscal year has found that Rs13.7 million was paid to 13 employees of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in terms of house rent.
According to a memorandum of the Ministry of Housing and Works dated July 31, 2004, all payments must be made through crossed cheques, which would then be forwarded to the bank’s manager for depositing in the homeowner’s account.
The audit, however, has found that the management of PID — the principal department of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting — incurred an expenditure of Rs13.72m on payment of rent for residential buildings of 13 employees.
Rs13.7m paid to information ministry employees as house rent; rules violated in Rs7.7m payment to vendors
The audit has showed that rent was paid to employees based on unregistered special power of attorney from a sub-registrar. However, the payment of rent other than the homeowners without having a legal authority was not regular, the AGP said.
The AGP has recommended that the practice may be discontinued and advised the PID to address this irregularity.
The audit has also pointed out that the PID violated the federal government’s treasury rules while making payment of Rs7.7m to vendors.
Citing Rule 157(2), the report states, “All third-party payments shall be made through cheques drawn in the name of the recipient”.
However, the PID management paid Rs7.7m in the name of an officer instead of issuing crossed cheques in the names of vendors. During the fiscal year of 2019-20, too, the audit accused the department of irregular payments, unauthorised hiring of private vehicles and unlawful appointments on various positions.
According to the audit report, the PID had 479 posts, including 110 officers and 369 secretarial staff.
Its management filled the posts without advertising them in the newspapers, the report found and recommended an inquiry into the matter.
The audit also found that the department hired private vehicles against procurement rules, as “procurement opportunities may also be advertised in the print media”.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2022