ISLAMABAD - At a time when majority in country still do not have access to basic health facilities, the higher authorities of Pakistan’s Embassy in Nepal purchased two ambulances for staff spending US $ 50,000 for taxpayers’ money.

The revelation was made during a meeting of Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, which took the members and chairman of committee by surprise. The embassy purchased these vehicles in 2004-2005 with approval of then Ambassador to Nepal arguing that vulnerable security conditions in Nepal prompted the embassy to purchase these vehicles. However, Public Accounts Committee not only expressed annoyance over wastage of taxpayers money in spending on two ambulances arguing that single ambulance was more than enough for limited number of staff.

“Spending 50 thousand US dollars on purchase of two ambulances for limited staff in Nepal is purely wastage of public money. We as a nation can’t afford to waste public money in such a way,” chairman PAC, Nadeem Afzal Chan remarked during proceedings of PAC.

PAC on Thursday reviewed audit observations departments including cabinet division, foreign ministry and railway ministry for the year 2004-05. Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and federal secretary Pakistan Railway Arif Azim appeared before the committee to answer queries/ audit objections raised by the Auditor General of Pakistan.

Audit General of Pakistan informed the committee that Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent huge amounts on purchasing vehicles, expensive furniture and other luxurious furniture to be used in foreign missions. Auditor General of Pakistan made it loud and clear that MFA spent foreign reserve equal to Rs 90 million rupees without approval of concerned authorities. This way a sum of Rs 90 million was spent out of national exchequer that may be refunded.

“ Even the embassies with limited number of staff spent huge amounts from national exchequer contrary to rules and regulations,” Auditor General of Pakistan told PAC adding that country’s embassy in Nepal where only 15 employees are working, purchased two ambulances were purchased for them.

Foreign Secretary told PAC that the law and order situation was worst therein therefore, two ambulances were purchased at the cost of 50 thousands dollars.

However, PAC rejected the explanation given by the officials of foreign ministry asked MFA to regularize it. The committee also directed foreign secretary to ensure recovery of outstanding amount of Rs 62 thousands from former health secretary and health minister.

Meanwhile PAC asked cabinet division to submit a comprehensive report within four days on purchase of vehicles worth 10 million rupees by the officers of National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) without permission.

“ We need to know how did the authorities spend huge sums on purchase of vehicles. Also, clearly mention the present status of these vehicles in this report,” chairman PAC said.

Also on Thursday, PAC wondered that Ministry of Welfare of Population did not spend even a single a penny from its budget allocated during fiscal year 2011-2012. “Population is increasing at an alarming rate, while the Ministry did not utilize its budget to control increase in population,” Chairman Committee wondered and directed higher authorities of Ministry of Welfare of population to submit a report in this regards.

Interestingly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday issued a press release stating that PAC spoke highly of MFA presentation and asked rest of Ministries to follow it. The press note stated that Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, being the Principal Accounting Officers, represented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on 10 January 2013.

“In response to a comprehensive compliance report submitted by the Foreign Secretary, the PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal commended the hard work put in by the Foreign Office in dealing with financial matters. PAC observed that in handling audit related matters the Foreign Office has set an example to be emulated by all other Ministries and Departments of the Government of Pakistan. Such unprecedented praising remarks by PAC exhibit the seriousness with which the Foreign Office is dealing with audit related matters,” stated the press note.