- The Director General Audit (DGA), Sindh’s report for the year 2016-17, has found massive irregularities worth billions in various government departments.
- The province’s bureaucracy has failed to respond or comply with the Audit’s board recommendations.
- Sindh’s provincial government has not taken action, fueling speculations of lawmaker’s involvement on the scandal.
The audit authorities in Sindh province have found massive irregularities worth billions in different provincial departments.
A recently published report notes the misappropriation of funds worth Rs1 billion in 43 cases. There was non-production of record amounting to Rs 17 billion in 8 cases, among other inconsistencies.
The audit report has highlighted, Rs 3.2 billion as poor financial management and Rs 50 million as asset management. According to the report, RS 74 billion had to be recovered in 2016 -17. However, only Rs 8.729m were recovered.
Further, there were reported losses to the government due to illegal Water connection worth Rs 19.46 million. There was an unauthorized withdrawal of funds worth 4.625 million from the accounts of different housing schemes. As per Sindh’s financial rules, “every payment including payment of money previously lodged with the government for whatever purpose must be supported by voucher setting forth full and clear participants of the claim.” However, a large amount of these funds remains unaccounted for, claims the audit report.
There were numerous other “doubtful” payments made to purchase vehicles despite a clear ban from the government. Moreover, “illegal plans and layouts of housing societies” in Karachi have also emerged in the audit’s report. The audit also pointed out that in 2016, Bahria Town purchased 1165 acres without appropriate approval.
Millions were paid in salaries to staff in different departments with “fake degrees.” No action has been taken by the government to recover the money. The audit also highlighted, Government of Sindh’s incompetence in completing the Liyari Expressway resettlement project. Millions have been wasted and the project has been delayed. The development of unauthorized development schemes caused Rs 4 billion to taxpayers.
The report also reveals that during financial years 2014-16, Director General, Sehwan Development Authority, withdrew public funds amounting to Rs 4.625 million in cash from the bank accounts of different housing schemes. "However, no vouchers, bills or supporting vouchers were found against the transactions," the report said.
The report findings highlight the lack of cooperation on the part of the Province’s bureaucracy. From 2013 to 2016, the audit team tried to hold meetings with various administrative departments. However, their efforts remained futile and the provincial government didn’t intervene at any level.
The report noted that “despite numerous correspondence with Secretary, Local Government Department, GoS, Chief Secretary, Government and Sindh and Minister, Local Government, the administration units didn’t care to submit their working papers or replies to audit.”
The report further observes that a “schedule of DAC meeting was issued on 16/18 December, 2016 to discuss audit observations, but the whole exercise remained futile. On the instance of Secretary, Local Government, a verification schedule was issued from December 2016 to January 2017; however, the response remained lukewarm.”
“Most of the entities didn’t reply or produce their record for verification. The few replies which were furnished, were without valid justification and necessary record.”
Despite glaring irregularities, neither the government of Sindh nor the province bureaucracy done anything to address audit board’s concerns. The recommendations issued by the audit report have not been followed by the Sindh government. For instance, the report calls for a “need to strengthen internal controls to ensure that reported lapses may not be repeated in future and fair value for money is obtained from public spending.”
However, nothing has been done to implement the report’s findings. To an extent, this gives the impression that officials from the Sindh government remain involved in these scandals. Thus, there is an effort on the top of the government to snub the issue.
So far, the government has not explained its position on the issue.