Absence of AGP, PAC postpones meeting

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday postponed its scheduled meeting after Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Buland Akhtar Rana and his officials refused to attend.
The PAC was of the view that the AGP and his office’s refusal to attend the meeting is a violation of the Article 169 of the constitution. In the previous meeting, the AGP had already told the PAC that they were unable to attend the committee meeting relating to the tenure of the previous government.
PAC Chairman Khurshid Shah said that a sub-committee had been constituted to probe the allegations of withdrawal of excess salary and other privileges against the AGP and it has submitted its report to the main committee.
In PAC’s last meeting the AGP told that the committee that it is dealing with the audits of previous years expenses is convening under a chairman who was, till last year, a member of the federal cabinet; and it is totally against the international standards that the PAC chairman or convener of the sub-committee may lead on to PAC who related to their ministry the year before.
Buland Akhtar Rana termed composition of the PAC against the spirit of democracy and refused to participate in future meetings of the spending oversight committee. AGP’s move surprised the parliamentary panel.
The 18th meeting of the PAC was scheduled to meet with Khursheed Shah in the chair to examine the left over areas of WAPDA, NTDC and Ministry of Water and Power regarding the appropriation accounts for the year 2009-10, 2010-11 & 2011-12 and audit reports, special audit reports for the year 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Khursheed Shah further said that AGP and its office were not above the law and the constitution. The committee was of the view that they could only audit others but there was no authority to audit them. “All of us are bind to follow the constitution,” Shah added.
PAC Member Mian Abdul Manan said that Article 169 may be made part of the proceeding to which the Committee chairman approved.
MNA Javed Ikhlas said that the AGP is a constitutional body and aimed at keeping check and balance over other government departments. However refusing to attend the PAC meeting was a violation of the constitution. He further said that the post of the AGP was equivalent to the Judge of High Court and the person needs to be an upright and honest patron. After a short note, chairman PAC adjourned the committee meeting.
Rana had stated in the previous meeting that there are some federal ministers of the previous government, and the PAC is dealing audit objections pertaining to the time their parties were in power, which was a “serious conflict of interest”. Therefore, neither Rana nor his department would attend the PAC meetings.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has reportedly decided to recommend to the National Assembly speaker to refer the ‘financial embezzlement’ case of the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Buland Akhtar Rana to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) after thoroughly examining the report submitted by its sub-committee.
The sub-committee in its report found allegations against the AGP valid and recommended a recovery of Rs 4.6 million from him on raising his own salary without the approval of the competent authority and availing himself of the perks and privileges which were not allowed to him under the rules and regulations.

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