PAC orders probe into financial irregularities

ISLAMABAD: In a visible atmosphere of mistrust, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday ordered the initiation of inquiries into the presentation of unverified figures pertaining to financial irregularities in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and misuse of confiscated vehicles by taxmen.

PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Shah told the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to investigate and hold the officials accountable for coming up with unauthenticated figures in the PAC meeting. He asked the AGP to take the auditors to task, if they were responsible for the unprofessional work.

In case the FBR had committed the mistake, PAC would take the matter to parliament and recommend it to take action against the erring officials, Shah added.

“It is highly unfair that figures of different departments do not match each other,” he remarked.

The PAC meeting had been called to discuss roughly Rs20 billion worth of irregularities and taxmen’s failure to collect due taxes during 2009 and 2010. The committee put off decisions in most of the cases due to the mismatch between the FBR and AGP figures.

Except for the FBR, it had never happened that any department challenged the figures presented by the auditors after meetings of the Departmental Accounts Committee, said Irfan Jehangir Wattoo, Director General of Customs and Petroleum at the AGP office.

PAC also directed customs authorities to immediately deposit the confiscated foreign currency with the central bank after the auditors highlighted cases where the taxmen had not deposited foreign currency valuing Rs5.1 million.

PAC members urged FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa to handle model Ayan Ali’s currency smuggling case in a transparent manner. “The nation is disappointed over the manner the FBR handled the case,” said Arif Alvi of the PTI.

Bajwa said $510,000, which was recovered from Ali, was deposited with the central bank.

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