Cabinet takes action to tighten rules for Auditor General

ISLAMABAD: The government is considering tightening the noose around the Auditor General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) by setting up a high-level committee to recommend parameters to make financial audits more meaningful and accountable.

Federal Cabinet Members Not Satisfied With AGPR Details, Says following the detection of irregularities detected in expenses incurred as part of the Covid-19 relief program, and convinced Prime Minister Imran Khan to take action in this regard.

Apparently, the prime minister decided to form the committee under Shaukat Tarin at a high-level meeting held here on Monday.

According to sources, the majority of federal cabinet members supported the view that the fault lies in the financial audit of the AGPR, which focused more on procedural irregularities than on financial malfeasance.

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Making a clear distinction between system auditing and financial auditing, the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Poverty Reduction and Social Security, Dr Sania Nishtar, explained how the AGPR was more focused on the first than on the second.

She added that sometimes insipid observations have been made, such as Cabinet and Board decisions questioned in recent audit paragraphs relating to the Ehsas program.

Sources said the committee will include aadvisor to the Prime Minister in charge of finance and revenue (facilitator), SAPM on poverty reduction and social security, art.secretary in the Finance Division, and sSecretary, Law and Justice Division. The Finance Division would advise this committee and provide it with secretarial support.

Profit also learned that a member of the cabinet, in a meeting with the Prime Minister, stressed that the secretaries of the divisions defend the audit paras regardless of any wrongdoing. He felt that this hindered the discovery of major financial scams from previous governments.

He suggested that the line minister also be involved in the process and hold a meeting with the Principal Accountant (PAO) to assert the Division’s position within the Departmental Accounts Committee (CAD) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). ).

The Cabinet Secretary informed the Cabinet that the Secretaries also function as PAOs and are responsible for the financial discipline of their divisions. However, since most of the audit paragraphs prepared by the AGPR concerned procedural irregularities, a majority of them are resolved in the DACs after rectifying the procedural deficiencies.

“In cases where financial irregularities and boondoggles have been established, secretaries recommend recoveries and in some cases even refer them to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). This can be verified from the PAC file, ”he said, adding that virtually no major financial scams had been identified by AGPR’s financial audit.

“Nonetheless, if there are still doubts about the intentions of the bureaucracy, ministers should be empowered by appointing them as PAOs,” he suggested.

It is relevant to mention here that the AGP had examined 354.3 billion rupees of expenditure incurred on Covid-19 as a result of pressure from the IMF and had uncovered 40 billion rupees of irregularities. The results showed procurement errors, payments to ineligible recipients, cash withdrawals via fake biometric data, and purchases of substandard products by Utility Stores Corporation (USC) for consumption.

Additionally, the government has also tried to empower its ministers to act as PAOs for PAC briefings instead of federal secretaries.