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ISLAMABAD: The Finance Ministry said that the federal government has decided to establish a Special Purpose Fund namely, “Covid-19 Fund” out of the unutilised stimulus package in terms of Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, 2019.

This has been submitted by the Finance Ministry to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that has been scrutinising non-issuance of Rs314 billion from the stimulus package announced by the prime minister to mitigate the suffering of the people, especially low-income groups from the countrywide lockdown following Covid -19.

The Finance Ministry submitted that since the pandemic is continuing; therefore, relief measures announced are required to be taken during the current financial year 2020-21. For this purpose, the federal government decided to establish Special Purpose Fund namely, “Covid-19 Fund” out of the unutilised stimulus package in terms of section 32 of the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, 2019.

In March 2020, the government announced Economic Stimulus Package amounting to Rs1,240 billion to support economy and mitigate sufferings of the common man from the negative impact of the Covid-I9 pandemic. This package was duly approved by the federal cabinet through the ECC of the Cabinet.

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The pandemic is a continued phenomenon and the government has been facing the fiscal constraints as well; therefore, the stimulus package has been utilised over a period of time after assessing the macroeconomic situation as and when required.

However, audit revealed that the management of the Finance Division issued considerably less supplementary grants from the prime minister stimulus package, due to which, citizens of Pakistan could not avail the complete benefit of the announced package resulting in suffering, economic hardship, and many private factories were laying off their workers during Covid-19 process.

The audit further stated that management also accepted its inability for non-operationalisation of special purpose fund namely, Covid-19 fund for utilisation of unutilised Economic Stimulus Package.

The PAO was requested to convene departmental account committee (DAC) meeting on 19.01.2021, 02.03.2021 and 09.03.2021, 09, 12.2021 and 16.12.2021 but no DAC meeting was convened till finalisation of the audit report. Audit recommends that strategic planning be improved for better financial management.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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