Irregularities in PTA still untouched by PAC
By: Abdul Sattar Khan
LAHORE: Though the PAC is making every effort to hold several incumbent officials of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) accountable over issues raised by a suspended Member (Finance) PTA, financial irregularities of Rs9.13 billion still remained untouched and are duly highlighted in a special audit of the PTA conducted on the directions of none other than PAC itself last year.
No word is available about what became of these audit objections of special audit, which have not been discussed during the proceedings of the PAC. Yet the fiery chairman of PAC Nadeem Afzal Chan has ordered another round of audits covering the last four years of PTA, to be deliberated upon in PAC meetings.
Besides banking heavily on the contents of a report authored by a suspended member (finance) PTA, at the moment the PAC is looking into audit objections from 2004 till 2007 when the present chairman PTA Dr Yaseen was associated with the authority as its member (technical) and not as chairman PTA. He was posted to this post soon after the formation of the PPP government in 2008.
Interestingly, among scores of financial irregularities, a Rs2 million donation in former PM Yusuf Gilani’s Flood Relief Fund on 24 August 2010 will certainly be a hard task for PAC to deal with, given that it is headed by PPP stalwart Nadeem Afzal Chan. The special audit declared that the donation was made in violation of the provisions of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act 1996 (Amended 2006). The breakup of the huge financial irregularities of Rs9.13 billion as mentioned in the special audit includes Rs5 billion by changing the schedule of payments of Initial Spectrum Fee (ISF) to five wireless local loop (WLL) operators in clear violation of decision of ECC.
The audit has also sought clarification from the PTA over the difference of various figures found in Receivable Master File (RMF) on three difference occasions, which do not tally with each other. The figures provided during receivable study stood at Rs41,708,383,818 while the figures provided during special audit were Rs31,058,853,818, showing a difference of Rs.10,649,529,898 and the figures reported to PAC for discussion were Rs38,997,117,761.
Another loss of Rs146 million has resulted in less realization of revenue on account of Access Promotion Contribution (APC) for the Universal Service Fund (USF) as calculations of demand notices issued by PTA for the year 2009-10 revealed that the management issued demand notices of lesser amount on account of incorrect calculations. Another loss of Rs626 million was suffered by the authority on account of non-existence of a proper system of receivables as PTA was not following the fundamental accounting cycle regarding recording of transactions.
Similarly, another financial irregularity of Rs1 billion was found on account of restoring the services of a company against which dues were still outstanding. A loss of Rs530m is also reported in the special audit due to non-encashment of Stand-By Letter of Credit (SBLC) of two companies despite the fact that the licence could not meet the roll-out target of the consequent years; therefore, the encashment of SBLC became due and should have been forfeited at that time.
The special audit has also termed an expenditure of Rs521 million as irregular on the basis that the concurrence of Member Finance was not obtained as required in approved delegation of powers. The expenditures incurred during fiscal year 2010-11 include Rs2,412,580 development budget, Rs18,841,940 current asset, Rs375,348,755 on salaries & allowances, Rs24,028,426 on welfare, Rs8,226,071 on repair and maintenance, Rs92,270,787 on administrative expenditures and Rs.3.4 million in the heads where the budget has exhausted.
The special audit has also pointed out gross violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) as it failed to cancel the licences of government defaulters who had been in default since 1997-98. Of the total Rs100.19 million outstanding dues, the authority has recovered just Rs3.8 million.
Since Nadeem Afzal Chan was not available for comments, The News contacted MNA Yasmeen Rehman, who is also a member of PAC and was heading the monitoring and implementing wing of PAC. Rehman said the special performance audit would be discussed at the next meeting of PAC for which the secretariat of the assembly would be asked to do the needful.