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ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) observed that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) transferred Rs 28.681 billion from Assignment Account maintained for the development project to different commercial banks’ accounts maintained by universities and centers in violation of instructions of the Finance Division.

The committee met with Noor Alam Khan in the chair here on Thursday, where the audit objections of the HEC for 2020, 2021, and 2022 were reviewed. Khan said that it is regrettable to bring DAC matters to PAC. Why was the money kept in commercial banks instead of assignment account? he asked.

HEC Executive Director Dr Shaista Sohail said that due to lack of a National Bank in some remote areas of Pakistan led to this money being kept in commercial banks. On this occasion, the committee member Ahmad Hussain Daher said that the scam of Rs 500 million happened in Bahauddin Zakariya University due to the fact that the money was kept in a commercial account. The committee asked the Finance Division to explain under which law, the HEC was allowed to place such huge amount in commercial accounts.

The audit authorities also took the stand that the Finance Division had violated GFR 95. The chairman committee told the HEC executive director that there is a difference in her own statement with respect to putting the amount in accounts.

According to the audit para, the management of the HEC was maintaining Assignment Account No 2167 for development projects of universities and Rs 28.681 billion was transferred by the HEC to different universities during 2020-21.

The audit observed that the amount of Rs 28.681 billion was transferred from Assignment Account maintained for Development Project to different commercial banks’ accounts maintained by universities and Centers in violation of instructions of the Finance Division.

The HEC submitted that the Commission has been releasing grants/funds to HEIS as per practice in vague which was authorized in the meeting held with the Ministry of Finance. The HEC issued cheques in favor of VCs/Rectors/Presidents which were deposited by HEIs as per their own statutory framework. Hence, the amount of Rs 67.623 billion was actually not transferred to commercial banks.

The revised procedure of Assan Assignment Account applicable to all institutions including HEIs has already been deliberated by HEC and in the light of Asaan Assignment Account Procedure (Local Currency) 2020, HEC asked all public sector HEIs to start the process of opening the Asaan Assignment Accounts.

During the review of audit objections regarding the US Need Base Scholarship, the audit officials told PAC that HEC could not meet the target for the scholarship. The donor disbursing the money only when the universities give admissions on the scholarship while they have failed to do so due to which this amount has been lost.

The PAC ordered an investigation into the matter and said that the matter should be taken up in the DAC. Noor Alam Khan said that education is a matter of children’s future and the shortcoming in it cannot be ignored.

Expressing dissatisfaction over HEC’s response regarding illegal opening of accounts by various universities in remote areas of the country, the PAC has ordered a fresh DAC on all audit objections.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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