Misappropriated funds, fake biometrics, ineligible beneficiaries
A report prepared by the Auditor General of Pakistan has revealed irregularities worth Rs40 billion in Prime Minister Imran Khan's coronavirus relief package.
The findings, which were revealed Friday after a six-month delay, unearthed mispurchases, payments to ineligible beneficiaries, cash withdrawals via fake biometrics, and procurement of substandard goods by utility stores.
The auditors investigated expenses worth Rs354.3 billion but failed to get all records.
According to the report, the highest number of irregularities of Rs25 billion were found in the Benazir Income Support Programme. The project spent Rs133.3 billion during 2019-20 and 13.1 million beneficiaries were paid.
Auditors pointed out that payments worth Rs6.6 billion need to be addressed before any further payments. They observed irregular cash transfers to government employees including pensioners and their spouses.
Over Rs16 million of Covid-19 cash transfers were paid to beneficiaries who were well off and were tax filers. Withdrawal of Covid-19 cash grants from both BISP and Zakat of around Rs318.7 million were also found.
Money was even withdrawn from outside the province by 2,048 agents who operated in Quetta, Lasbela, Thatta, Jamshoro, Hyderabad, and Khanewal. Meanwhile, Rs1.7 million were withdrawn by fake biometrics.
Moreover, over 13 million beneficiaries, enrolled for BISP payments, have not yet been paid.
The audit found irregularities in spending by the National Disaster Management Authority as well. "NDMA procured units of one and the same ventilator at higher cost from Sinopharm Fortune Way Company. The difference in price per ventilator was $7,100. Procurement of same equipment at the same time at a higher rate resulted in a loss of $994,000 to the public exchequer," the report revealed.
Misprocurement was also found in the installation of Resource Management Systems, beds at isolation centres, and quarantine facilities. The auditors added that despite multiple requests NDMA didn't produce the required documents and records needed for the audit.
The report added that the defense ministry had doubtful spending of nearly Rs3.2 billion as well. Meanwhile, Rs1.5 billion of irregularities were revealed in other government departments as well.