ISLAMABAD - A forensic audit investigating Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLIRC) submitted before the Supreme Court has revealed that a loss of approximately Rs3.2 billion caused to the government exchequer due to political interference of former Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif. “It seems that the then CM used the project to satisfy his political goals and inaugurate it in his term. 

The president of PKLI&RC and its board of governors also approved the revised timeline and thus billions of rupees were lost due to apparently careless actions taken without any planning.

There is an estimated loss of approximately Rs3.2 billion due to these actions”, said the report of forensic audit.

The report is submitted by Digital Forensics Research and Service Centre in a suo motu case regarding appointment of former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and others in Board of Governors (BoG).

On September 13, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had ordered for handing over the management of Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLIRC) to the ad-hoc committee appointed by the top court.

However, the top court may consider the aspect of alleged corruption on next date of hearing.

The goal of the forensic examination was to identify the events of non-compliance with the laws and procedures applicable to the public interest projects.

The report stated that the then CM of Punjab actively participated in the project. “The original time of 36 months as designed by the architects was decreased to 14 months and as a result engineer’s estimates  increased by approximately Rs1.2 billion, ” it added.

During interviews, the report stated, it was transpired that the then CM decreased the timeline to inaugurate the project before elections to support his political campaign.

“The project was inaugurated incomplete. It seems that project will be completed somewhere in 2020. The then CM has written during forensic examination in a reply to queries stating that he has/had no role in the functioning of PKLI&RC, and he will be available after the elections to answer the queries,” it added.

During the course of forensic examination, it transpired that unauthorised payments, misuse of government resources, weak internal controls, creation of illegal practices developed in government on the directions of then chief minister and negligence of various government officers in Health, Planning and Development and Finance Departments of Punjab Government resulted in the payment of Rupees 20.6 billion to Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLIRC).

The report suggested that in Rs20 billion the government of Punjab could have developed several kidney and liver transplantation facilities in several cities and the people would be able to get cheap or free treatments.  “Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLIRC) is charging similar rates as Shifa International. Being funded 100 per cent by the government, this hospital should be charging much lesser amount than private hospitals.

The rate list may be analysed by the government of Punjab to ensure the access of poor and common people to Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLIRC),” it added.

The report further added that procedures were by passed and laws, rules and regulations were created to facilitate the funds transfer to PKLI&RC and several other similar projects classified as Other Development Programs (ODP) in the Government of Punjab.

It should also be noted that payments worth of Rupees 2 billion were paid to PKLI as development project without any approval from P&D department directly on the summary from the Chief Minister of that time. Dates

In this process it was found that the relationship of Infrastructure Development Authority of Punjab (IDAP) and PKLI was based on a contract, which does not have an important annexure, which was to show the total cost and timeline to complete the project. 

“This may be an intentional omission due to the open ended contract signed with Ministry of Health and PKLI&RC Rs. 13.5 billion were paid under this agreement to IDP without adequate monitoring by the team of PKLI. This was due to negligence and lack of internal controls in PKLI&RC.”

It was observed that the terms “below the line funding”, “one line budget” and “Other Development Program” (ODP) were created in Government of Punjab to facilitate the transfer of funds against unapproved projects and by pass the evaluation process(through PC-1/PC-2) as per guidelines of NEC provided under Planning Manual.

“P&D department have issued advices/instructions to transfer funds worth of Rs. 177 billion in last three years to various projects including PKLI&RC without evaluation (PC-1), by passing relevant approving fora.

P&D Department may be held responsible for risking billions of rupees worth of public money to various projects.”

Finance Department transferred the funds to relevant administrative department without a proper pre-audit from AG Pakistan.

“It is important that AG Pakistan should conduct pre audit instead of treasury office in the Finance Department to ensure the proper implementation of internal controls.”

It added that undue benefit was given in the award of transport contract to M/s Mystic Tours (Pvt) Ltd. “The pre-qualification criteria were designed in such a manner that only one firm i.e., M/s Mystic Tours (Pvt.) Ltd was able to pre-qualify and was awarded contract being the single bidder.” “Finance Department of government of Punjab transferred funds upon receipt of the request from P&D Department.

The finance department paid Rs.1,957 million.No pre-audit was conducted by AG Pakistanto ensure that the funds are being transferred.” PKLI&RC received funding through Government of Punjab  under the cover of Other Development Programs (ODP), which is not defined anywhere in the government.

“Public money was put on risk and losses due to weak/no internal controls and authority had been misused to make these payments.  It seems that the top management of the P&D had bypassed the procedures.” “P&D had transferred Rs. 177 billions in last three years.  These were all unapproved projects categorized as ODP. This has happened due to weak internal controls and negligence on behalf of the public servants. 

These actions have resulted in risking billions of rupees of government funds and then exposing public money to billions of rupees losses. It seems that President of PKLI&RC knew about the funding process being prepared without PC-1 which is by passing a regular procedure of project evaluation.  He did not submit a valid feasibility report, never bid for this project to ensure competition and never wanted to be controlled by a public department.”

It is recommended that an investigative agency with experience in white collar crime investigation may investigate affairs of the stakeholders including former CM Punjab, PKLI&RC, CPG Arcorp, Infrastructure Development Authority of Punjab (IDAP), SCH&ME, P&D Department, Finance Department, ZKB & Reliable JV and NESPAK.