Weak internal control at Foreign Office drains Rs 4.7b: Audit report

ISLAMABAD: Financial mismanagement and lack of internal control at Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the losses of Rs 4.669 billion to the national exchequer during fiscal year 2009-10. This was revealed in an Audit Report of the ministry for the year ending June 30, 2010. Out of total loss, an amount of Rs 3.7 billion was occurred by virtue of violation of rules and regulations and breach of set principles in the public operations.

Factor of fraud worth Rs 3.66 million was also reported by the audit authorities, which go through in the total budget of Rs 50.38 billions, according to the report available with Online. Another amount of Rs 856.168 million went waste into cases of accidents and negligence, it added.

The good news was that recoveries amounting to Rs 22.449 million were realized out of the total Rs 94.14 million pointed by the Auditors as recoverable at the instance of audit. It is worth mentioning here that amount involved in irregularities was converted from various foreign currencies into Pak rupees.

The final amount, placed under audit observations and irregularities totaled at Rs 4.669billion, was almost four times higher than Rs 1.244 in the same category during the preceding year. That clearly indicated that the irregularities were rampantly on the rise in the Ministry.

That is why perhaps, the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan has recommended for the Principal Accounting Officer that is Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir in this case to take necessary steps to evaluate, institute and strengthen the management, budgeting and accounting controls.

“Financial propriety requires public officers to exercise the same vigilance in respect of the public expenditures incurred from public money as a person of ordinary prudence would exercise in respect of expenditure of his own money,” the Auditors recommended.

They have also recommended for the Foreign Secretary to strengthen budgetary systems at Headquarters and Missions abroad. He is also supposed to ensure that the Departmental Accounts Committee meetings are held promptly.

The Audit has noted as many as 43 cases of violations of rules, 4 instances of overpayment, 11 unauthorized payments, loss in 10 cases, five cases of wasteful expenditures, three frauds and misappropriations. Ironically, the audit observed lack of internal control in almost all the cases mentioned above. There Auditors pointed out recoveries in 43 cases.

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Azmat Aziz Gill

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