Islamabad-Auditor General of Pakistan has observed irregularities of over Rs400 million in disbursements of health and relief allowances by Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan to its RO pay scale employees, officials said on Monday.

Officials told The Nation that the AGP observed irregularities of Rs403.876 million in awarding of health professional allowance, adhoc relief allowance and payment of arrears of pay and allowances to the RO pay scale employees of the authority.

As per the agenda copy of DRAP’s 68th meeting available with The Nation, the authority added the issue of alleged irregular payment of pay and allowances to the RO pay scale employees on which AGP raised objections. Documents said that (Director Costing and Pricing) forwarded a file to Chief Executive Officer DRAP office stating that during audit of FY2016 to 2017-18, the office of the Director General Audit has made audit paras regarding irregular revision of DRAP’s RO Pay Scales 2016 & 2017, payment of arrears of pay and allowances of Rs 68.140million.

It also said that irregular payment of Rs27.145 million was awarded as Adhoc Relief Allowance in 2016 and 2017 to the DRAP RO Scale employees, while Rs308.591 million unauthorized payment was made in respect of Health Professional Allowance. The documents added that in an effort to find out the rationale and explanation to these payments, the Director (Costing and Pricing) perused the available record but could not find any expressed of explicit approval or a notification in this respect.

It also mentioned that additionally, Adhoc relief Allowance 2018 and increase in House rent Allowance at 60 percent in year 2018 had also been paid to employees working in RO scales but approval from the Policy Board is not available on record.

“Further no notification is available on record for amending Schedule V under rule 15 (1) of the DRAP Employment Service Regulations -2015,” said the document. The working paper mentioning the audit objections also said that since employees working in RO Scales were already being paid salaries according to revised pay scales along with Adhoc Relief Allowance 2016,2017 & 2018, therefore, the Director (Costing and Pricing), while having charge of Director (Budget & Accounts), did not stop making payments. The working paper admitted that these financial matters have implications and may lead to audit paras for fixation of responsibility and even recovery from DRAP Employees.

“Therefore it is proposed that, the matter being jurisdiction and function of the Policy Board may kindly be placed before the Policy Board for consideration and necessary orders/decisions as per the law on the matter,” it said. CEO DRAP office in its response prepared for policy board meeting on the observations made by AGP said that “payments to RO employees with regard to Adhoc, pay revision etc is in line with the decision of the Policy Board which is the apex governing body to decide matters regarding salary packages of the authority’s employees, in accordance with the DRAP Act 2012duly enacted by the parliament. Relevant provisions of DRAP Act 2012have already been clarified in the pre paras”.

President Pakistan Drugs Lawyers Forum (PDLF) Noor Muhammad Mahar had written a letter to the Prime Minister mentioning multifold salary and health professional allowance being awarded to RO employees of the DRAP. Mahar wrote in his letter that “Health Professional Allowance” is entitled to Doctors and Paramedical Staff, who are directly working in Hospitals. Secretariat Staff and Drug Inspectors are not entitled to Health Professional Allowance; as those doctors, who qualify CSS and join Civil Services of Pakistan, are not entitled for Health Professional Allowance.