LAHORE - The federal government has abandoned its plan to divide the Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service (PAAS) into two separate occupational groups.

The decision was taken after the former Auditor General of Pakistan’s removal from the post due to his duel with the federal government on certain issues and also following Supreme Judicial Council decision.

After facing severe opposition from the AGP, the federal government was considering separation of the PAAS into two groups, Pakistan Accounts Service and Pakistan Audit Service. The purpose of the exercise was the reaction of tug of war between the then AGP Akhtar Buland Rana and the Ministry of Finance.

AGP Rana had locked horns with the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif government by filing a reference with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) accusing the finance ministry of having paid over Rs500 billion to the independent power producers (IPPs) while the ministry had paid out of the Federal Consolidated Fund without the mandatory pre-audit checks of the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) – a subordinate office of CGA.

Moreover, a tussle between the AGP and the CGA was also ignited and both of the offices had been at daggers drawn over the use of authority while the federal government supporting the later one.

The government had also deliberating on putting the CGA allegedly under the administrative control of the Finance Division in proposed amendments allegedly to dent the constitutional position of the AGP.

Despite fierce opposition from the PAAS officers that the splitting of service would trigger seniority disputes, posting, promotion and other issues, the federal government had constituted as committee that duly recommended that PAAS could be divided into two separate services but with a choice for the service to join either of the factions.

The federal government had sacked Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Akhtar Buland Rana in May this year after the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) found him guilt and the President of Pakistan had to remove Rana from office. The National Assembly had filed the complaint after Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had recommended disqualification of AGP Rana in the Supreme Judicial Council.

It was alleged that Rana had withdrawn Rs4.62 million from the national exchequer more than his salary and privileges that the government thought was violation of the rules and that Rana had been getting 20 per cent more salary in comparison with other grade-22 officers.

The other allegation included unsanctioned foreign visits, possessing four different passports and availing long leaves to complete the residence requirements in Canada for immigration purposes other than abuse of power.

The sources in the finance ministry further said that as the tussle between the AGP and the federal government was over so the purpose to split the service was over. They confirmed that the federal government wanted to dissolve the service knowing severe opposition from the PAAS officers.

Had the SDC not removed Rana, it would have been pertinent for the federal government to separate the services, said a senior officer of finance ministry. He said that the federal government had decided in principle to remove Rana or to separate the services come what may.

A supporter of Rana, also working in the AGP Punjab, questioned that why only Rana was punished by the PAC for abuse of power and ignored many others involved in billions of rupees corruption.