ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan has detected procurement-related irregularities to the tune of Rs1.85 billion in the accounts of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

In their annual report for fiscal 2020-21, the federal audit authorities have raised five audit objections in the NADRA's accounts.

The audit authorities during audit of the NADRA for the years 2018-19 and 2019-20 was observed that management purchased a number of vehicles without obtaining relaxation from austerity committee.

As per financial statements an addition of Rs879.435 million was booked under the head vehicles during period under audit, it says.

The report says that audit authorities is of the view that the NADRA has been using government authority for collection of revenues from public.

Thus, it was binding upon it to observe the austerity measures, announced by the government and to seek relaxation of ban from the Finance Division committee.

Thus, in view of the said facts, the procurement of vehicles valuing Rs879.435 million was held irregular, it says.

The audit found that the management entered into an agreement with Director General (DG) immigration and passport (I&P) for provision of different services such as Verisys, Automated Finger Identification System (AFIS) and Machine Read Passport (MRP) at cost of Rs231.665 million, Rs184.649 million and Rs440.233 million respectively.

The record revealed that an amount of Rs410.770 million on account of Verisys services, Rs334.479 million on account of AFIS, while an amount of Rs96.134 million is outstanding on account of MRP-Phase-I.

The charges on account of Verisys has already been recovered by the department from the concerned person(s), however, the same could not be passed on the NADRA.

Thus, an amount of Rs841.383 million is outstanding against the DG I&P since long, it says.

It is further intimated that in 2016, the management of the NADRA has established 13 executive passport centers at major cities under an agreement with the DG I&P.

The NADRA is charging 2,500 from the client on account of services charges, out of which Rs2,300 is the NADRA's share while, Rs200 being paid to the DG (IM).

The management can adjust the said outstanding amount from the said fee, however, no such action was initiated by the management, the report says.

According to the report, the federal government released an amount of Rs755.470 million to the DG I&P for clearance of liability of the NADRA, however, the management of the DG I&P did not clear the liability.

The auditors have also found that tenders were called for April 2018 for purchase of blade chassis, storage system and library and backup software. The date of opening tenders was May 17, 2018.

However, the date was extended up to May 24, 2018 on the request of bidders.

In response to press tenders, six firms quoted their rates out of which M/s Metis was declared the lowest for blade chassis and tape library and backup software, the report says.

According to the report, the purchased orders were issued to the firm at $195,460 equal to Rs23.455 million, whereas for storage system, M/s IBL Unisys was declared technically responsive and lowest with $99,756 equal to Rs11.970 million. The total cost of the purchase orders comes to Rs44.004 million.

It says that the scrutiny of record showed that the tenders were called for in April 2018 and bids opened on May 24, 2018, whereas, the technical evaluation was carried out on April 6,2018. The position showed that firms were selected prior to tendering process and procedural formalities were just an eyewash.

Further, in tender enquiry the management showed its demand for half height blade services under lot no 1. Later on, after opening bids, the management changed its requirement to full height blade services, which is not allowed under the rules.

In view of the facts, the procurement cannot be considered as transparent. Thus, the procurement of Rs44.004 million is termed as irregular, it says.

The audit found that the management of the NADRA signed an agreement with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for development and implementation of i-voting system for overseas Pakistanis, so that they could cast their vote in general elections.

System was developed for more than six million Pakistanis living abroad in different countries. Total cost break-up of the project was Rs95 million. The ECP conducted a technical audit of the software and a number of findings were given, the report says.

According to the report, the most serious one was (Sr No 1.3 (I)), which states that i-vote categorically does not provide ballot secrecy as required in clause 94 of the Elections Act 2017 and Article 266 of the Constitution.

In the presence of this inherent risk, i-voting software was launched in bye-elections of 37 constituencies on October 4, 2018. Only 6,233 votes were cast by overseas Pakistanis. The ECP had paid an amount of Rs66.062 million to the NADRA till date.

On August 28, 2020, the government constituted an advisory committee for review and preparation of expression of interest (EOI) to hire consultancy for analysis, design and implementation of a new internet voting solution.

Audit is of the view that the NADRA management has not exercised due diligence and all the legal and constitutional requirements were not catered for, while designing i-voting software.

Consequently, the government is again hiring the consultancy services for analysis, design and implementation of a new internet voting solution. Thus, the whole expenditure of Rs66.062 million has gone wasteful, it says.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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