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ISLAMABAD: The Finance Ministry has been unable to explain before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the details of expenditure of Covid-19-specific stimulus package, and consequently, Economic Affairs Division and Finance were directed to come up with complete details of corona-related funds received and their utilisation within two weeks.

The PAC meeting presided over by Rana Tanveer Hussain on Wednesday took up audit paras of the Finance Division and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and directed the NDMA for retaking its paras to departmental committee meeting (DAC).

However, on Finance Division para related to non-issuance of economic stimulus package for relief to the citizen of Rs314 billion.

The PAC appeared completely dissatisfied with the secretary finance and other senior officials of the ministry. The meeting on the request of officials gave two-week time for providing details of grants, soft loans and loans the country received from multilateral and bilateral sources and how these funds were utilised.

The meeting was informed that out of Rs500 billion allocations for providing relief to the people on various accounts, relief to daily wagers, power gas subsidy, subsidy through USC and relief to vulnerable – Rs186billion was released in the first year.

The Finance Ministry told the meeting that funds for stimulus package in the first years were directed from other heads through supplementary grants as nothing came from external resources in 2019-20.

The members of the committee wanted to know that an insignificant amount of Rs16 billion out of Rs200 billion announced for providing relief to the daily wagers was released and whether remaining Rs184 billion would be disbursed or not.

Similarly, the members also highlighted that out of Rs50 billion funding to the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) for providing relief to the people on daily used items, only Rs10 billion was released and from Rs100 billion announced for power and gas subsidy, only Rs15 billion was released.

Hina Rabbani Khar said that the prime minister without having any resources at hand had announced stimulus package of Rs1.2 trillion.

Khawaja Asif said this reflects how the affairs are being run by the economic managers who had not explained the real situation and now credible voices are stating that the country is at the verge of bankruptcy.

He added that the SBP is being criticised for becoming local branch of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The secretary finance said that the country received $2.6 billion for budgetary support including $1.3 billion from IMF after the Covid-19, whereas, the chairman PAC also referred to reported Rs40 billion irregularities pointed out by the auditor general in utilisation of corona fund. The NDMA chairman briefed the committee that the NDMA received Rs168 billion in the year 2020-21 and spent Rs144 billion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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