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ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP), on Wednesday, revealed that Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) has been feeding white elephants within the mills since closure in 2015-16.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) met under Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain, which examined the Ministry of Industries and Production for the year 2019-20. During audit of the PSM for the year 2018-19, it was observed that the PSM arranged water in bulk form KWAB. The water, so procured was to be used for production activities in the plant and for supply to PSM’s residential areas such as Steel Town, Gulshan-e-Hadeed, and commercial areas in the vicinity. The record of billing reflected that the PSM received bill amounting to Rs 412 million for the period ending June 2019 from Water Board.

However, the management could not provide details in terms of water dues recovered by them from its consumers nor could it provide any details against water consumed against the plant operations. The management in its reply admitted shortfall in recovery but it failed to spell out details of water consumption in huge quantity with almost nominal recovery from the users, which raised questions over the water distribution system itself, especially Rs 65 million worth water over non-functional plant was questionable and required probe.

The secretary industries responding to the audit objections stated that Rs 300 million worth pending recoveries was challenging as the non-paid water bills were even 10 years old.

In another case, it was observed that an amount of Rs 97.39 million was appearing as receivable from M/s Hadeed Welfare Trust from the last so many years against various heads. The Trust had been dissolved without recovery of dues. The committee also expressed its serious concerns over the Attorney General of Pakistan’s opinion in case of “nature and extent” of audit.

The attorney general had written letter to Auditor General of Pakistan and endorsed the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA)’s stand that audit should be conducted of its expenditure not its functions and decisions. The committee had also directed the Auditor General of Pakistan to revisit its decision of terminations of 92 employees of the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) sympathetically, amid inflation and unemployment in the country.

The Sindh High Court also gave verdict in their favour, said Member Committee Mushahid Hussain Syed.

During audit of the EPZA for the year 2018-19, it was observed that the management appointed 584 employees in various cadres involving payment of Rs 139.860 million in the year 2012-13 against violation of the EPZA Services Rules and also failed to observe the government standing instructions regarding verification of educational documents and experience certificates. The record also showed that such illegal appointment status in respect of at least 92 persons out of 504 had also been confirmed by the FIA and the clear cut status in respect of the remaining also remained unascertained. The secretary industries said since 2017-18, there is no permanent chairman in the EPZA and the action could not be taken as per the board decision.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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