Budget money was being unlawfully transferred to non-lapsable accounts: PAC

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ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) made a starling discovery on Wednesday that the ministries with collusion of finance secretary were unlawfully transferring budget to non-lapsable accounts via fake documents.

In response, PAC stopped the government from outing the budget after May 15th of every financial year, reported Express Tribune.

This illicit process of transferring taxpayer’s money from a lapsable to a non-lapsable account via fake documents was being carried out for the last few years.

In a starting revelation before PAC, Housing and Working Secretary Babar Hassan Bharwana said this move was carried out to support funding schemes requested by politicians.

Director General, Federal Audit Works, Maqbool Ahmad Gondal revealed the Ministry of Housing and Works was allegedly involved in transfer of Rs4.9 billion from a lapsable to non-lapsable account during FY 2012-13, 2015-16 and 2016-17 using fake documents.

Furthermore, Deputy Financial Adviser of Finance Ministry admitted before PAC that the finance secretary was aware of this illicit deed and the funds were diverted with his approval during FY 2015-16.

This was done to appease the son-in-law of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar, for his constituency these funds were moved to non-lapsable accounts during FY 2015-16 by housing ministry.

Although, funds of Rs132 million in four schemes of Captain Safdar’s constituency weren’t transferred and end up being lapsed.

The budget given go-ahead by parliament is shifted to Personal Ledger Account-I (PLA-I) of the particular ministries and departments. The excess money in possession of PLA-I is to be given back to the treasury before end of financial year.

And PLA-IV account is only meant to house money for pension and gratuity purposes. Excess money that is present in PLA-IV is permitted to be kept even after end of the financial year.

Mr. Gondal claimed the surplus funds weren’t being relinquished and were being issued for development funds to the treasury. And from there, the surplus funds were moving the budget to PLA-IV by fake documents and issuing dubious cheques.

He added, money was being paid through private chits to contracts to cheat the government’s accounting systems.

PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Shah directed the Finance Ministry to not disburse funds after May 15th of every financial year and if it happens, the onus would fall on finance secretary. Also, Mr. Shah directed the finance secretary to appear in the next meeting and provide an explanation.

Deputy financial advisor admitted before PAC, the finance secretary had given personal approval for moving of funds from lapsable to non-lapsable accounts.

Housing Secretary Mr. Bharwana admitted this illicit activity was constitutionally, ethically and principally abject. He told PAC that ministry was moving funds to PLA-IV, released every financial year in mid-May or June weren’t utilized before end of financial year.

He shared the finance ministry released Rs791 million out of Rs912 million in June and no time was available to spend it appropriately.

Mr. Bharwana also accused influential politicians for this illicit activity as they compelled contractors and government officials to ensure funds didn’t lapse even after end of financial year.