PESHAWAR: The auditor general of Pakistan has raised serious objections over the lack of transparency in the funds the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government had released to local bodies during the last two years.
The auditor general has warned about giving up all financial matters to protest the failure of the finance department to compile financial records of the provincial local government department.
The AG office also expressed concern over the funds transferred to the accounts of district governments this year and directed the KP Finance Ministry to clarify its position as soon as possible.
A total of Rs29.34 billion were allocated for the local bodies in the financial year 2018-19, out of which Rs14.84 billion had been released as development funds. This year too, more than Rs2 billion have been released to the local governments by the finance department despite the fact that the tenure of local government had expired on August 28, 2019, and no proper record of the amount had been provided to the AG Office.
A letter sent to the KP government by the auditor general said that a comprehensive report on the accounts of tehsil, village and neighborhood councils for the financial year 2018-19 had not been provided so far, adding that the expenditure report was not properly compiled either.
The auditor general said that the audit objections on local governments regarding financial expenditures are serious and almost one year old but no serious steps had been taken to address these objections.
According to the AG Office, the financial record had not been provided this year as was the case in the previous financial year and such irregularities were causing embarrassment to the KP government.
The auditor general also expressed concern over the transfer of funds to the district governments in the current financial year, saying that the term of all the local bodies had expired on August 28, 2019, and while enacting legislation, the provincial government had abolished the district tier of the local bodies and only tehsil, village and neighborhood councils were included. However, the provincial government was releasing funds to the district governments in the same manner, the auditor general observed.
Sources in finance department said that the procedure for compiling financial records as defined under the Local Government Act, 2013, was still being used as no new financial and accounting rules had been formulated since the law was amended last year.
Sources further said that the finance department has summoned local government department officials and all other partners to take them into confidence and were informed about the objections raised by the auditor general. The local government department officials said that immediate steps would be taken to remove the objections of the AG Office.