IMF questions AGP about audit of Covid-19 expenditure fund

Pakistan was given $1.4bn under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to overcome the balance of payment crisis

ISLAMABAD: With negotiations between Pakistan and International Monetary Fund (IMF) currently underway, the lending organisation’s representative on Monday questioned the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) regarding the audit of Covid-19 expenditures to scrutinise how the financial support was used as part of validation process of Pakistan’s economic and financial data for the revival of its $6 billion programme.

In this regard, along with AGP Muhammad Ajmal Gondal, IMF Resident Representative for Pakistan Teresa Daban, Economist Saher Masood, DAG(FAO) Maqbool Ahmed Gondal, and DG (Policy) Tafakhar Ali Asadi attended the meeting.

Sources said that the IMF representative asked the AGP about the audit of the $1.4 billion Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) amount which was given to Pakistan to overcome the balance of payment crisis.

The AGP through a special audit of Covid-19 related expenditures had highlighted billion rupee irregularities. 

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Sources further said that the IMF representative also asked the AGP if the government of Pakistan had exerted any pressure on the constitutional department over the audit of the expenditure of Utility Store subsidies on food items during the pandemic.

They said the AGP assured the Fund that his department conducted the audit without any pressure.

Meanwhile, a handout issued by AGP states that a meeting on the request of the Resident Representative of the IMF was held in Islamabad.

Further, Sanchez briefed the chair about RFI and also extended an offer for the training of DAGP officials in the field of budgeting, financing, execution and reporting. 

The AGP appreciated the proposal and apprised the IMF team about the mandate of the department. The process of accountability and the timelines of audit reports. 

The chair also apprised about Parliamentary oversight and role of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as well as the procedure of public hearing on audit reports, especially the audit of Covid-19 expenditures. 

The meeting was also apprised of the coverage of pandemic expenditures in the report and the same Utility Store subsidies on food items during the pandemic. 

IMF representatives appreciated the recommendations made as part of the report.

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