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Public Accounts Committee criticises auditing procedure of ministries, government departments

ISLAMABAD (November 11 2002) : The Public Accounts Committee has strongly criticised the auditing procedure of ministries and government departments by Auditor General of Pakistan and stated that there is lack of professionalism, competency and efficiency in various areas, sources said here on Sunday.

The Public Accounts Committee in its annual report has asked the Auditor General of Pakistan to not bring irrelevant matters in the meeting in future as it has been a practice during the last two years.

The report, based on the proceedings of the PAC, which completed its job quite recently for 1999-2000, has been approved by the President.

The PAC in its report also raised questions about the professional approach of the Auditors General of Pakistan and the auditors who according to the report were lacking in many important areas.

Pointing out the incompetence and prevalent inefficiency of the auditor general of Pakistan office, the PAC has said that the staff working in the audit department needs to be more professional, considering the present-day challenges. Audit has started carrying out performance audit in certain areas. Audit of the commercial enterprises in public sector also contains an overview for the operations and health of the auditee.

The PAC found that presently the overview is somewhat rudimentary in contents and does not meet the standards of financial analysis. The PAC, therefore, recommended that in order to enhance the value of reports audit should evolve indicators in consultation with the ministries concerned and apply these indicators to measure performance of the auditee unit.

The report has pointed out that the Auditors have also an obligation to constantly update and improve their skills in discharging their professional responsibilities.

They must know and apply auditing, accounting and financial management standards, procedures and practices. They must possess a good understanding of the constitutional, legal and institutional principles and standards governing the operations of the audited entity. Thus, the general public and the audited entities would be assured of the fairness, impartiality and competence of the auditors.

In addition to it, the committee felt that certain trivial matters ie transaction of lesser value, matters of less importance, procedural lapses, matters requiring verification, non-production of record, etc can be left to internal audit of the concerned department which must be strengthened in government departments.

Statutory audit can leave these issues with the executive authorities; small low financial utilisation of funds can better be left to departmental audit and inspection. Audit should concentrate on major issues ie transaction of huge amounts, major purchase deals, performance audit of organisation and prepare special audit reports of major projects so that substantial matters are brought before the PAC.

Meanwhile, an official said that this is not for the first time that the troubling questions have been raised over the competency, efficiency and quality of auditor general of Pakistan and his team. As in the past, on many occasions, the AGP first submitted some paras but later could not pursue them effectively.

The auditors were found manipulating the audit paras to grill some government departments while happily extending co-operation and showing soft corners to many ministries and divisions, perhaps to oblige their friends there.

The official said that this plausible attitude of AGP was also criticised by the PAC in the meetings as well and subsequently pointed out by the press as such attitude had failed to bring about any change in the governance system.

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