ISLAMABAD - The government in complete disregard to the apex court directions has amended the law to prevent the audit of the secret funds of secret agencies and different government departments, including the information ministry.

This was revealed yesterday by Auditor General of Pakistan in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which met under the chair of Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah.

The PAC took up the audit objections on the accounts of interior ministry and Port Qasim. The meeting was also informed that Nadra has sought an amount of Rs1 billion to meet the target of issuance of CNICs.

Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Jawwad S Khawaja in July this year had directed Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) and the government to come up with a procedure to conduct audit of the secret funds of the ministries, including the information ministry, and other departments and set a four-month deadline in this regard.

Interestingly, despite coming up with the categorical statement of closing the secret funds under various ministries and departments, the federal government had come up with an amendment in the law to prevent the audit of secret agencies, AGP Rana Asad Amin told the PAC meeting.

The PAC meeting was attended by Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Naveed Qamar, Shafqat Mehmood, Azra Plageo, Naveed Qamar and committee members.

During the course of proceedings Khursheed Shah asked the state institutions to recover the national money worth billions of rupees and hire the services of competent lawyers for the purpose as it was noticed that the looters and plunders of national wealth managed to escape the law because of poor prosecution on part of the state institutions.

Mehmood Khan Ackhazai said that corruption can’t be done without the connivance of government officials, adding that officials have showed negligence in recovering the plundered national wealth.

The PAC was informed that State Bank did not let the cheque worth Rs10 million cash issued for the maintenance of the houses damaged during Sawat operation in Malakand.

Passport fee

The committee discussed the proposal floated by Auditor General Rana Asad Amin to allow top category banks to collect passport fee and recommended the Passport office to look into the matter. “We need to facilitate the masses and make the process easier,” the AGP remarked.

The committee expressed the concern over increase from Rs2 to Rs25 in commission being charged by National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) on each passport application without approval of the ministry of finance since 2005.

Audit report said the increase in bank’s charges was made without the concurrence of finance ministry and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The NBP collected Rs411.694 million during 2007-13 by charging extra money. He said the NBP was extended undue favour to charge the enhanced passport fee.

Passport Director General Usman Bajwa told the committee that proposal to collect the passport fee by banks other than the NBP was under consideration to facilitate the citizens.

The PAC recommended that all top category banks of the country should be allowed to collect passport fee to facilitate the people.

Bajwa also said that passport offices would be set up at every district level as per directions of the government. The DG said that around 4.43 million passports were issued during the previous year and Rs22.2 billion were received in the form of passport fees.

CNIC Verification

Interior secretary responding to a question raised by Shafqat Mehmood said that there was a suggestion that Afghan nationals be issued CNICs by Nadra on the verification of the parliamentarians.

But members of the committee declined the proposal of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) that parliamentarians could also verify the nationality of a person for obtaining or re-verifying the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC).

PAC member Sheikh Jamil Asghar protested over the attitude of Nadra with senior citizens.

Earlier, audit report 2013-14 of Ministry of Ports and Shipping was presented before the committee.

The ministry officials informed about the latest position of court cases on the issues of non-recovery of dues from M/s Expo City and M/s Small & Medium Industrial Parks (Pvt) Limited for the non-recovery of occupancy charges of land.

The committee directed the quarters concerned to pursue these cases vigorously.

Law ‘amended’ to keep secret funds secret