Utility charges, hostel rent, TA/DA on foreign tours: AGP detects loss of Rs69.243m in KP assembly accounts
PESHAWAR: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has detected a loss of Rs69.243 million sustained by the exchequer of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on account of electricity charges, non-recovery of hostel rent, and irregular expenditure on TA/DA for foreign tours of members of the provincial assembly during the financial year 2018-19, according to a report on audit of KPK departments for the year 2019-20.
The report said that as per existing policy/general practice, accommodations are provided by the government, while the utility charges are paid by the occupants. Para 7 (2) of the report of the PA Standing Committee No 4 on house and library says a member who occupies a suite or a room in MPA Hostel during the period of his term of duty shall pay Rs3,000 for a suite and Rs2,000 for a room per month.
During audit of the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the financial year 2017-18, it was observed that a sum of Rs12.458 million was drawn on account of electricity charges at MPA Hostel. Further scrutiny of record revealed that there were 113 suites/rooms. Moreover, each member was paid Rs4,800 per month as utility charges.
Audit staff held that rooms were allotted on nominal rates, therefore utility charges were required to be paid by the occupants or they should stop receiving the utility allowance of Rs4,800 per month, which was not done. Similarly, gas charges and generator POL charges were also paid by the government, which resulted in loss to the provincial exchequer. The audit department has attributed the loss to violation of rules and regulations.
When pointed out in April 2019, the department stated that detailed reply will be given later on. But despite the request of the audit staff no meeting of the Departmental Audit Committee (DAC) was convened till finalisation of the audit report. So, the audit department has directed recovery from the defaulter MPAs.
In the second case, a loss of Rs13.944 million has been detected due to non-recovery of rent of rooms of MPA Hostel from the occupants. According to Para-7 (4) of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa dated 16.11.2015, a parliamentary secretary who occupies a suite in the hostel shall pay Rs15,000 per month and the one who occupies a room Rs12,000 per month.
During audit of the provincial assembly for the financial year 2017-18, it was observed that a sum of Rs6.67 million was due to be recovered against parliamentary secretaries, etc. on account of rent of suites and rooms of the MPA Hostel till 30th September 2017 vide Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Administration Department’s letter dated 1.6.2018.
The same suites and rooms also remained under the use of parliamentary secretaries and advisers from 1st October 2017 to May 2018 (8 months). However, monthly rent amounting to Rs7.272 million was not recovered due to which the government sustained a loss.
The audit attributed the lapse to violation of rules and regulations and when pointed out in April 2019, the department stated that detailed reply will be given later on. The audit staff also requested the department for a DAC meeting, but it was not convened till finalisation of the mentioned report. So, the audit staff recommended the recovery of the outstanding amount under the head of MPA Hostel rent from the concerned parliamentary secretaries and advisers.
In the third and major case, an irregular expenditure of Rs42.941 million has been detected on account of TA/DA on foreign tours. According to the clarification given in the finance department’s letter dated 20.4.2002, the payment of TA/DA, accommodation charges and other expenses of the officers who are invited by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other institutions (Government/Non-Government) to attend seminars/conferences is the responsibility of the inviting organisations.
According to para-11 &12, each head of the department is responsible for enforcing financial orders strictly at every step and observing all relevant financial rules and regulations, while the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s finance department letter dated 15.7.1981 provided that the controlling officer should exercise care that there is no evasion or breach of the fundamentals of travelling allowance and that the allowance is not to be utilised as a source of profit.
During audit of the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the financial year 2017-18, it was observed that a sum of Rs42.941 million was drawn on account of TA/DA of regular staff and parliamentary members out of which a sum of Rs2.297 million was incurred on foreign tours.
The audit staff have declared the expenditure as “irregular” on the grounds that documentary evidence — i.e. tour programme, attendance certificates and tour notes by the members/officers concerned attending tours abroad — were not made available while details of training schedules, invitation received or any documentary evidence/certificates etc were also not available.
Similarly, the criteria for nominating officers for trainings/tours was not available, no relevancy of nominated officers attending said training/tours with their job description were matching and in some cases some junior-most officers (specific persons) were nominated for foreign tour again and again without nay cogent reason.
An amount of Rs33.199 million was incurred on account of TA to members under voted head AO3825 without detailed breakup and proof and appropriate register, while previous year liability on account of members of foreign tours for the year 2015-17 of Rs1.965 million was claimed in 2017-18.
A memorandum of understanding was required to be finalised with respective agencies, which was not done, and the factual position regarding names and nominations of members of the parliament or other staff and duration of visits could not be determined.
According to a clarification of the finance department, the payment of TA/DA, accommodation charges and other expenses were the responsibility of the inviting organisations, therefore payment of Rs42.941 million was unjustified.
In the light of these facts, the audit department has attributed the lapse to violation of rules and regulations. But despite the request of the audit staff no meeting of the DAC was convened till finalisation of the audit report. So the audit department has directed recovery of the amounts.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022