PAC expresses dissatisfaction over Finance Ministry’s briefing

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ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday expressed its dissatisfaction over the briefing of the Finance Ministry on the issue of Rs1,240 billion Covid-19 relief package after the ministry failed to satisfy the committee on the issue.

It was revealed that out of Rs500 billion announced by the prime minister for providing relief to the citizens, only Rs186 billion were released and the committee expressed its surprise over not releasing the remaining Rs334 billion. The PAC on Wednesday sought details of external funding as relief assistance during Covid-19.

The PAC held its meeting, chaired by its Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain, here on Wednesday in which the briefing was given on the expenditure incurred during Covid-19 by the federal government audit year 2020-2021, along with the funds allocation.

The Ministry of Finance told the PAC that Rs334 billion were spent on Covid-19 in 2019-20, Rs187.89 billion in 2020-21 and Rs352 billion so far in the current financial year while during the Covid-19, $2.6 billion was received in external funding for budget support and project funding and grants were in addition.

The Finance Ministry officials told the committee that Rs1,240 billion relief package was an overall package and not for one year and out of Rs1,240 billion relief package, there was Rs365 billion non-cash and Rs875 billion cash was planned. The Finance Ministry officials told the committee that Rs334 billion was released in the year 2019-20 while Rs334 billion was released through the supplementary grants.

The chairman NDMA said the NDMA received Rs168 billion from March 2020 to December 2021 out of which Rs144 billion was spent on anti-corona and a fund of Rs17.4 billion was available. “China has given a grant of Rs404 million for anti-corona measures,” he told the committee. He said some audit objections which were not related to the NDMA were also included in the audit.

Chairman PAC Rana Tanveer Hussain asked from where Rs1,240 billion came and sought details of how much money was received from external funding. He remarked that payments were also made to the UtilitySstores and the FBR from corona funds but no mechanism was formulated while announcing support for daily wagers. “No planning was done while preparing the package,” he remarked.

The Finance Ministry officials said in the first year 2019-20, nothing came from external resources. The committee expressed dissatisfaction over the briefing of the finance ministry officials and the chairman PAC directed the officials to come prepared and give details of each and every penny.

According to the audit briefing presented before the committee, a package of Rs200 billion was announced by the prime minister to provide relief to the daily wage workers during Covid-19 for which a supplementary grant of Rs16 billion has been released and Rs184 billion was not released.

The committee was told that Rs150 billion was announced for vulnerable families and Rs145 billion supplementary grant released for shelter less people, Rs50 billion was announced for Utility Stores but only Rs10 billion supplementary grant was released. Also, Rs100 billion was announced for electricity and gas subsidy but only Rs15 billion supplementary grant was released.

PAC member Hina Rabbani Khar said out of Rs500 billion, only Rs186 billion were spent to provide relief to the people. The PAC members inquired that when will the remaining Rs314 billion be spent. The officials of the Finance Ministry replied that the funds will be released on the demand of the concerned ministries. Hina Rabbani Khar remarked that in this way, even in the next three hundred years, these funds will not be spent.

PAC member Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the real picture should come out on this forum and even responsible people are saying that Pakistan has gone bankrupt and the State Bank of Pakistan was being criticised. The PAC reviewed the objections for the audit year 2020-21 regarding the National Disaster Management Authority and referred the matter to the Departmental Accounts Committee while the matter related to the Utility Stores was postponed.



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