Irregularities, record fudging cost Housing Ministry over Rs 6.48b


In line with the general perception about the Ministry of Housing, nothing changed with the arrival of a dynamic minister and an efficient secretary, as the audit report for the year 2011-12 has identified irregularities, fudging of record and corruption amounting to Rs 6.48 billion in a single fiscal year.
The audit report for year 2011-12, compiled by the Auditor General of Pakistan, has pointed out irregularities amounting to Rs 6481.123 million in the Housing Ministry, reflecting massive malpractices.
The report said audit noted seven cases in which the executive engineers (XEN) of various divisions of Pakistan PWD (Pak PWD) booked development expenditure of Rs 7,771.211 million relating to People’s Works Programme (PWP) I-II and Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) during the FY 2010-11.
Of the total expenditure, Rs 4,117.054 million (53 percent) was incurred during the month of June 2011.
Audit observed that in all the subject cases, works were awarded in the last quarter of the financial year and were measured in full by June 30, 2011.
Of the total cost, 90 percent was paid during the same period, meaning that the tendering, award of contracts and work execution process was completed within a short span of three months.
A review of expenditure statements portraying the cash flow indicated that the major part of releases received during second and third quarter remained un-disbursed, however, the disbursement accelerated during June 2011. The award and execution of works in a very hasty manner cast serious doubts on the veracity of executed works and disbursed funds.
The audit also observed that in two cases, the XENs of divisions of Pak PWD, during the execution of various works, measured and paid additional and substituted items over and above the permissible limits of the administrative approval without approval of the competent authority.
The audit also noted eight cases in which the XENs of various divisions of Pak PWD approved contractors’ claims, booked the expenditure against the work done but withheld Rs 519.422 million at the time of payment in June 2011. The withheld amount drawn from lapsable PLAs was transferred in PLA-IV (non-lapsable account).
The stated reason for withholding these sums ranged from non-execution of contract agreements, suspension of chief engineer/superintending engineer, and non-issuance of NOC from sponsoring MNAs, to test reports of works executed, finalisation of audit paras, premature monsoon season, test checks of the works by the XEN/assistant executive engineer, and delayed release of funds, etc.
The audit noted that the XENs of six divisions of Pak PWD awarded the works valuing, Rs 96.433 million, to the contractors enlisted with the pgc/ Pak PWD in low category and non-specified field in violation of PEC’s by laws.
The award of contract in these cases to ineligible contractors violated the cited rules.