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ISLAMABAD: The secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has been directed to conduct a viable inquiry into the irregular expenditures worth Rs84.15 million on account of rent of office building hired for the Media City paid during 2009-10.

A meeting of the sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which was held here on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Raja Riaz, further directed the federal secretary information to conduct timely Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) meeting.

Briefing the panel, audit officials said that the government in 2005 hired State Life Insurance Corporation’ building at Rs2.25 million per month rent.

The audit officials further said that it was noted that the building hired for the media city without approval of PC-1 of the project and the monthly rent was in excess of the authorised powers of the relevant officials.

The Information Ministry failed to establish media city for which the building was acquired at exorbitant rent.

Furthermore, the Finance Division’s approval was not obtained for hiring the building at higher rates and the rent payments during 2007-08 is not known as the ministry did not provide the record.

Secretary Information, briefing the panel said that the project of media city was aimed at providing one-window facility to the local and international media for the coverage of any event.

She further said that the project was not completed as the government did not provide required funds.

She urged the panel to not consider it as a financial loss, saying as the payment was made to a state department by another state department.

Responding to this, member committee Hina Rabbani Khar said that considering the view presented by the secretary information the entire problem of circular debt will end, adding that the circular debt of over Rs2.5 trillion is all about government departments receivables and payables.

Discussing another audit para, the audit officials informed the panel that the Information Ministry despite the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan was not providing the record of the secret fund to audit officials.

Responding to this, secretary information said that following the Supreme Court order the secret fund of the ministry has been abolished and the ministry has no record of the fund as it was not maintained.

The Supreme Court had declared some part of the secret fund as classified and some of the portion was audited but record is not available with the ministry.

The information secretary assured the panel that her ministry will make all out efforts to attain a copy of the audit of the secret fund from Supreme Court, which will be shared with the audit officials.

On this, Hina Rabbani remarked that it was strange that instead of sharing the audit report with the PAC or the concerned ministry, the officials have submitted it with the Supreme Court.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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