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Action likely against 'governments' holding blns in Personal Ledger Accounts

ISLAMABAD (October 23 2002) : The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) is likely to take action against federal and provincial governments for holding billions of rupees in Personal Ledger Accounts (PLAs) in the shape of non-lapsable funds, sources in Finance Ministry told Business Recorder.

“We are investigating how billions of rupees are lying in the federal and provincial PLAs and have been classified as non-lapsable,” the Auditor General was quoted as saying, in a letter to the Secretary General, Finance, adding that help has also been sought from the Controllers-General of Accounts (CGAs) to unearth the facts.

The Auditor-General said that this was a serious irregularity and was being brought into the notice of competent forum, so that action may be taken against the responsible federal and provincial governments, sources added.

These comments came from the AGP on a summary of the Ministry of Science and Technology on which an inter-ministerial committee, comprising representatives of Ministries of Law, Finance and Auditor General of Pakistan is to expedite the matter. The Ministry of Science and Technology had sought permission from the federal cabinet to utilise project funds in the next fiscal year to avoid lapse.

The Auditor General, member of the committee, in his comments said that the arguments of the Ministry of Science and Technology were not in line with Articles 80-85 of the Constitution, which prescribe an 'Annual' budgetary system. The financial procedure, AGP said, prescribed by the Constitution was based on annual fiscal control. Deviation from the system leads to serious control problems.

“The system of opening PLAs was introduced to 'facilitate the executives in the operation of their appropriated funds during a financial year. It was never meant to given them licence to spend money beyond the financial year,” AGP said, adding that these observations have been conveyed on a number of occasions to the Finance Ministry and to various Principal Accounting Officers (PAOs).

The Auditor General has also opposed any amendment in the rules or legal framework, saying that “amending the relevant rules or legal framework” could have serious implications, both for the budget and the accounts, as amendment in the rules and perhaps the Constitution to suit one Ministry, may not be appropriate”. The Auditor General could not share the views of their “in-house” lawyers.

“If the proposal of the Ministry of Science &Technology is approved it will go beyond the legislative approval given for a demand which is for a particular year, and the amount approved cannot be spent beyond the end of that fiscal year,” the AGP argued.

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