Senate body for appointment of independent audit officer for AGP office

APP86-13 ISLAMABAD: June 13 – Advisor to Prime Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar presenting the national budget 2009-10 during National Assembly session at Parliament House. APP photo by Afzaal Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Narcotics Thursday recommended a review of the existing law to appoint an independent officer for the audit of the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) office.

The committee, which met here under the chairmanship of Saleem Mandviwalla, was informed that the existing law did not allow the appointment of any officer outside the government service for the purpose.

The meeting was attended by Senators Ayesha Raza Farooq, Kamil Ali Agha and Hidayatullah, Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal, the secretary finance and other officials of the relevant departments.

Rana Afzal informed the committee that the rules could be amended for the appointment of an independent officer to ensure transparency.

The minister assured the committee that audit and accounts cadres would be separated. The two departments had a conflict of interests and their separation was vital for better performance, he added. He said the issue would also be discussed in the National Assembly.

The House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) managing director informed the committee that out of 5,000 outstanding loan cases of widows for write-off, 229 had been sent to the Finance Division for allocation of funds. He said that some 854 cases were at various stages, adding the process would be completed accordingly.

The committee members suggested that the deadline for resolving the issue should be extended from March 31 so that maximum widows get the benefits.

The committee also asked the Finance Division, the Establishment Division and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to sit together to resolve the issue of up-gradation of posts of principal appraisers to regular grade BS-17 on the basis of FBR’s own recommendations.

On the issue of 7,500 sanctioned new posts (SNEs) for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the secretary finance informed the committee that 2,200 posts were approved, out of which the quarters concerned had been given a green signal to initiate the appointment process on 1,400 posts.

However, the committee recommended to the finance secretary to convene a meeting in this regard and speed up the process.

On the presentation of the draft bill in respect of the issue of Federal Consolidated Fund (FCF) and Public Account, the committee was informed that the matter was under process.

The committee was also informed that the cabinet had approved a summary for the settlement of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) with the CNG sector and a bill was being prepared to be presented before the parliament.