Govt fails to give full relief PM pledged in economic package

ISLAMABAD – The government has failed to transfer full relief promised by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Economic Stimulus Package during Covid-19. 

According to details shared in the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, the Finance Ministry has released only Rs186 billion out of total Rs500 billion, which are only 37 percent of the total amount promised by the Prime Minister. 

Under PM package, relief to daily wagers was promised Rs200 billion but actual release was only Rs16 billion, funding to the utilities stores was Rs50 billion but it got only Rs10 billion, subsidies to power and gas were Rs100 billion but the sector received only Rs15 billion. 

However, under the head of relief to vulnerable families and panagahs was Rs150 billion out of which a considerable amount of Rs145 billion was released by the finance ministry. The Secretary Finance informed the committee that a total of Rs1240 billion were planned to be spent for corona-related activities that includes Rs365 billion non cash and Rs875 billion cash expenditures. 

He said as far as the issue related to less spending is concerned, the corona relief package was not for one financial year but it is continuing even in current financial year. 

He said the government had provided Rs334 billion out of its own budget as supplementary grant during financial year 2019-20 while rest is being spent. 

The Public Accounts Committee however expressed its dissatisfaction over half baked information extended by the Secretary Finance regarding Covid-19-related expenditures and directed him to come again with full preparation. 

The committee met at Parliament House under the chair of MNA Rana Tanveer Hussain, who repeatedly asked Secretary Finance to give exact details of amount received from foreign countries as aid to counter Covid-19. 

He said we need exact and correct information and directed Secretary Finance who could not satisfy the committee to come up again and brief the committee and also directed to call economic affairs division as well in next meeting. 

Meanwhile, Chairman National Disaster Management Authority Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz Satti also briefed the committee regarding overall performance of his organisation during Covid-19. 

He said there was no embezzlement or corruption pointed out against NDMA but some procedural flaws are highlighted by the Auditor General Office. 

The audit pointed out that an amount of $4 million was given by China for construction of 250 beds Isolation Hospital and Infection Treatment Centre but NDMA instead of using it retained it unlawfully. 

While explaining his position on said audit objection related to NDMA, Akhtar Satti said the title of the audit para is incorrect and misleading as there is no such thing in the issue. He criticised Auditors for making such paras. 

The Auditor General of Pakistan Ajmal Gondal came up to defend his subordinates and said if title is not correct then you leave it and explain rest of the contents instant para before the committee. 

At this point Syed Naveed Qamar of Pakistan People’s Party also snubbed the Chairman NDMA and asked him to listen to the committee members and only respond on audit objections and not get involved with other institutions. 

Chairman NDMA informed the committee that when government had announced and foundation stone was laid for the hospital, there was no grant reached from China. 

He said later the aid received at NDMA in the shape of US dollars and we retained them as it is because at that time we were procuring the things from abroad and we thinks that we could utilise said amount in that process. He said the amount was not utilised on any other purpose as the hospital for which it came is completed. 

However, the committee referred back this audit para along with some others to the Departmental Accounts Committee for discussion.

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