During a session of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held on Wednesday, an audit report provided by the Interior Ministry revealed that Rs695mn spent during the 2014 Islamabad sit-in by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) had not been recorded in the government’s cash book.
According to the report, the money was drawn through 30 cheques in the name of a Drawing and Disubursing Officer; however there was “no acknowledgement available in the record” of the sums withdrawn.
The audit report stated that the capital’s administrators had reasoned that the political protests had resulted in an “emergency situation … regarding law and order” because of which they had to request supplementary grants from the Finance Department through the Interior Ministry.
“All sanctions in this regard were issued by the DFA [financial adviser] for advance withdrawal of funds required to meet the emergency situation,” the audit report recounted.
The city’s administrators further assured audit officials that “each and every receipt [was] verified by the Additional Inspector General and Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) of the ICT police” and that funds were “utilised properly”.
However, when asked whether an emergency had actually been declared in the capital, Islamabad’s chief commissioner said there was no need for an official declaration.
The revelation also sparked a furious argument between PTI’s Arif Alvi and the PML-N’s Mian Abdul Manan, with the former claiming that the protests saved “billions of rupees”, while the latter demanding an explanation for how the expenditures could be justified.
‘Abnormal increase’ in costs of Rangers’ housing project
The audit report also disclosed that the cost of a housing project in Karachi meant for the Sindh Rangers, which was approved in 2005, had increased by 366 per cent over a decade due to delays in work.
Originally, the cost estimated for the project titled ‘Construction of Accommodation for Abdullah Shah Ghazi Rangers at Karachi’ was Rs616 million, and it was supposed to be completed by 2009.
The project remained incomplete till 2015, when its cost was revised to Rs2,870m — four times the original cost estimated, with no change to the scope of work.
The audit report further said that a reply had been sought from the Rangers authorities; however it was “not entertained as the [project] management gave no reason for non-completion of the project”.
The PAC formed a subcommittee comprising Alvi and Ghulam Mustafa Shah and demanded a report on the matter within 15 days.
The report further revealed that Sindh Rangers had not recorded operational expenditures of Rs 1.6bn in cash books.
Furthermore, it was disclosed that the Sindh Rangers had received “contributions” worth Rs 146mn from lower ranked officers without any official permission. Rangers officials claimed that the money collected was spent on the well-being of the officers and no one was forced to pay.
PTI’s Azam Swati suggested that there should be another source for welfare funds, since salaries of lower ranked officers is already meagre.
Safe City Project
PAC was also told that the interior ministry had spent funds allocated for other important projects on the Safe City Project. Committee Chairman Khursheed Shah asked authorities whether any of the objectives of the project were achieved after the Rs13bn expenditure.
The committee also requested a detailed briefing of the Safe City Project.