- Irregularities worth Rs 319m made in the name of Eidi (as ex-gratia payments) during PPP’s Gilani and Ashraf’s tenures while South Punjab kept crying for help against floods
- PM Office says payments made on directions of respective prime ministers while audit 2013-2014 observes, according to Finance Division’s guidelines, ex-gratia payment to public servants employees not covered under Contingent Grant, thus irregular and unauthorised
- Sources say Finance Department holding back audit report 2013-2014 as part of ‘underhand deal’ between PML-N and PPP
In violation of regulations, as much as Rs 319.5 million out of the national kitty were distributed by two former prime ministers of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) regime – Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf – among the top civilian and khaki officers of the prime minister’s office in the name of “Eidi”.
Pakistan Today learnt about the revelations which have been made in the 2013-2014 audit report which has not been made public and is allegedly being kept under the wraps by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.
As reported by this paper earlier, the audit report is ready and also has been given the president’s ascent but is being withheld by the Finance Ministry for reasons which some sources claim pertain to an “underhand deal” made between PPP and PML-N.
It may also be reminded that this case of “unbridled plundering in the name of Eidi” goes back to year 2010 and 2012 when the people of South Punjab and Sindh were facing severe difficulties due to successive flooding while the rulers were claiming “shortage of funds”.
Not only this “misappropriation of resources” went on during the reign of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani but it continued when Raja Pervez Ashraf took over the reins following Gilani’s disqualification from office on Supreme Court orders.
Documents available with Pakistan Today reveal embezzlement of this sort between year 2009 and 2013 by the top officers serving at the prime minister’s office from the civil and military branches of the bureaucracy.
Thus the unlawful payment of ex-gratia to the employees of Prime Minister’s Office out of Contingent Grant stands at Rs 319.577 million
LET US HAVE A LOOK AT AUDIT OBSERVATIONS:
“The management incurred an expenditure of Rs 319.577 million on payment of ex-gratia to the employees (BS-1 to 22) of the Prime Minister’s Office (Public and Internal) which includes former military secretary to the prime minister, Brigadier Tahir Ali Malik, who served both former prime ministers Gilani and Ashraf, his deputies, and all other high-ranking officers.”
“The management of the Prime Minister’s Office incurred an expenditure of Rs 723.525 million out of Contingent Grant during 2009-13. Audit was of the view that payment of ex-gratia to the employees of the Prime Minister’s Office (Public & Internal) was not covered under the purposes of the Contingent Grant, and was, therefore, irregular and unauthorised.”
Moreover, the audit observes, “Ex-gratia was paid in addition of annual regular honorarium out of Non Development Budget.”
“Rs 11,175,150 were paid to the officers on Eidul Fitr during financial year 2009-10 in the name of Eidi or ex-gratia payment. Rs 4,032,000 were paid to these officers the same year on the eve of Eidul Azha. Again on Eidul Fitr, Rs 11,411,318 was paid to these officers in year 2010-11. Another payment of Rs 11,473,823 was paid to the babus during year 2010-11 on the eve of Eidul Azha.”
The report clearly states that these officers again claimed Rs 10,006,894 in the name of honorarium in same year of 2010-11 while on Eidul Fitr 2011-12 these officers consumed another Rs 19,772,917.
The same officers were again paid a double amount of Rs 35,414,418 on the eve of Eidul Azha of 2011-12. But this loot did not end here as the same officers claimed another Rs 14,636,803 as honorarium the same year of 2011-12.
The year 2012-13 was another year of stealing public money by prime minister and his confidants, being their last year in office as May 2013 elections were coming. Their subordinating officers claimed a record amount of Rs 201,654,152 as Eidi for Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha the same year. This took the total “booty” to Rs 319,577,475.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR EX-GRATIA PAYMENTS:
It should be known that ex-gratia payment means payments made voluntarily, out of kindness or grace. In law, an ex-gratia payment is a payment made without the giver recognising any liability or legal obligation.
Compensation payments are often made ex gratia when a government or organisation is prepared to compensate victims of an event such as an accident or similar, but not to admit liability to pay compensation, or for causing the event.
Such payments are made to the poor or victims of calamities or the prime minister may also make payment to any private citizen. However, such a payment could not be made to government officers.
However, such payments were made to Grade 22 or Grade 21 officers on pretext of “Eidi” or “honorarium”.
Part II (a) of Finance Division O.M. No. F.5(4)-F&A/2000 dated 27.07.2000 relating to instructions for Disbursement of Contingent Grant of the Prime Minister states the purposes as under:
- Ex-gratia payments to private citizens and organisations which are normally not financed from public money.
- Grants to public and private organizations like bar councils which are the responsibility of the provincial governments.
- Grants which fall within the financial jurisdiction of the federal government or public sector organisations under their control for which full or adequate budgetary provision does not exist.
- Donations to schools, clubs, charitable institutions, similar bodies and financial assistance to indigent individuals and public servants.
- Donations to the needy and the disadvantaged groups/individuals in cases determined at the level of the prime minister.
MANAGEMENT RESPONDS TO AUDIT OBSERVATIONS:
Responding to allegation pertaining to misappropriation of funds in the name of ex-gratia payments, the management of prime minister’s office replied, “Ex-gratia/eidi out of Contingent Grant to the employees was distributed under the directions/orders of the prime minister, which was not a new phenomenon.”
“Owing to an established policy/tradition, the ex-gratia/eidi out of Contingent Grant was being approved by every prime minister/president/chief executive since its inception. The purposes of Contingent Grant issued by the Finance Division were guidelines/criteria to be observed by the principal accounting officer, otherwise, it was not beyond the status/mandate of the prime minister as defined under the Rules of Business, 1973.”
Moreover, it was said, “The prime minister being administrative head of the federal government was competent to direct payments out of Contingent Grant. In cases where the prime minister considered appropriate in the best public interest, he could relax any guidelines issued by the Finance Division. All proposals for grant of eidee/ex-gratia were processed as per wish and directions of every prime minister.”
AUDIT TRASHES PM OFFICE’s REPLY:
The reply was not accepted because the guidelines issued by the Finance Division were fully applicable to payments from the Contingent Grant, being public funds. The purposes of the Contingent Grant were, therefore, clearly defined.
According to the guidelines issued by the Finance Division, ex-gratia payments could only be made to private citizens and organisations which were not financed from public money, while indigent public servants were only entitled to financial assistance.
The principal accounting officer (PAO) was informed on October 8, 2013 and November 8, 2013, but the Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) was not held till the finalisation of the report.
Audit recommends that the irregularity should be discontinued and public funds should not be utilised for personal benefits.
This was a really great read, appreciation for taking the time to put it together! Touched on some very good…
Pakistans politicians are stealing from the treasury – well that’s quite old news I think. All that remains is how greedy and selfish they are becoming. To unprecedented and quite unbelievable levels is the answer.
Hang them all by the noose and set an example. So future politicians tremble in their feet when even the thought if stealing from Pakistan enters their mind!!
No Pakistani politican is in politics to make Pakistan a better place. They’re there because they know they can rob and steal as much as they want. And the public will love them for it!
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