Billions in taxpayer money untraceable in Pakistan

November 28, 2012 - 12:56:25 am

ISLAMABAD: A huge sum of Rs88.7bn is untraceable in the official books. 

The federal government of Pakistan does not have any clue about roughly one-tenth of the total expenditures that it incurred during the first three months of the current financial year.

This also puts a question mark over authenticity of the entire fiscal operations since the numbers reported in the Summary of Consolidated Federal and Provincial Budgetary Operations are understated, according to a report by the Express Tribune newspaper.

The finance ministry has released the summary of fiscal operations for the period July-September of the fiscal year 2012-13. In the summary, a sum of Rs88.7bn has been described as ‘statistical discrepancy’ a euphemism that the finance ministry uses for untraceable chunks.

The untraceable amount makes 9.1 percent of the total expenditures of Rs975.9bn that were incurred during the first quarter, according to the official documents.                    

This is not for the first time that big amounts are untraceable in the official books; however, the figure is alarming this time. In the fiscal year 2010-11, Rs32.4bn was reported as untraceable, whereas, by end of the last fiscal year it swelled to Rs69.9bn.

The government’s budget is based on cash accounts and previous transactions are not reported in the new fiscal year.

The reported figures also undermine the authenticity of the entire budget. 

The summary shows that government’s development spending during the first quarter remained at Rs30.3bn. 

Contrary to this figure, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf spent his entire annual discretionary budget of Rs22bn in just three and half months.

The finance ministry’s own reports suggested that the federal development spending was over Rs60bn. 

The discrepancies, giving rise to doubts of irregularities, are despite the fact that the Rs5.6bn Project to Improve Financial Reporting and Auditing (PIFRA) has in place for the last many years.