ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) has formally requested the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to conduct a special audit of the financial accounts of the Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA). This move comes as part of an effort to uncover suspected irregularities and financial embezzlements within the important department.
In a recent meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Secretary MoST, Ali Raza Bhutta, shed light on the issues plaguing the PSQCA. He identified the absence of a regular head and a weak Board of Directors as major contributors to the organization’s challenges. Additionally, the ongoing internal conflicts and the inability of the director-general to make effective administrative and financial decisions further compounded the problems faced by the authority.
To address these issues and streamline the affairs of PSQCA, the ministry is set to propose structural and administrative changes. These changes will be in alignment with the government’s initiative to enhance the efficiency of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) under the SIFC umbrella.
During the committee meeting, Secretary MoST informed that the ministry had compiled a comprehensive report with the recommendations put forth by the committee. The pending promotions in PSQCA were discussed, with the secretary attributing delays to the absence of a regular Director General and interdepartmental disputes.
The committee also deliberated on the existing Director General of Pakistan Hilal Authority, Akhtar Ahmed Bughio, discussing his term extension and associated benefits. Furthermore, attention was directed toward the recovery of Rs. 2.5 million in unjustified benefits from DG PHA, with a detailed report expected upon the conclusion of the investigation.
The committee, headed by Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen, expressed serious concerns about alleged unlawful hirings and promotions at the PSQCA and other attached departments. The agenda included inquiry reports, legal and administrative actions regarding illegal recruitments and promotions, as well as financial irregularities in PSQCA.
The committee’s focus extends to the illegal appointments of directors, including Ali Bukhsh Somro and Khalid Ahmed Bablani. The issues were brought to the committee’s attention through a letter dated February 3, 2023, from the then Director-General of PSQCA, Dr. H. U. Khan, initiating an investigation into the alleged irregularities.
In addition to PSQCA matters, the committee is set to examine the performance of the Consumer License Wing, additional charges related to consumer licenses, details of officials’ foreign travels, and meetings over the past decade. The Director General of PSQCA is also under scrutiny for holding an additional charge, raising concerns about a potential conflict of interest.
The committee aims to address delays in the recruitment process, pending promotions, and overall performance issues within various departments under the Ministry of Science and Technology.