The 2018-19 report of the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) is self-explanatory in depicting the bleak scenario of overall financial management by the ministries under the federal government. Pertinent to mention is that the figures regarding financial irregularities that the report highlights not only manifest weak financial administration but embezzlements and frauds. The said situation is an outcome of the violation of rules and regulations: prominent being the bypassing of the federal cabinet for approving. Accountability is an obligatory insignia of efficient and effective public administration, and hence National Assembly Rule 177 (2) empowers Public Accounts Committee to scrutinise the financial details of the projects.

 There is a dire need of developing a specific framework to monitor funds of such massive scale during the fiscal year. The current figure of PKR 15.6 Trillion is too colossal to be mismanaged in a cash-strip country like Pakistan. Similarly, US$ 2 Billion raised through international bonds by the state at higher interest rates through executive orders of the Prime Minister (PM) is a gross violation of rules and regulations. Therefore, an accountability charter must be in place to mitigate risks related to such individual autonomy and financial mismanagement.

Another worrisome fact highlighted in the report is the omission of supplementary grants by the Finance Ministry. The said omission is not only a violation of the Article 80-84 but also a big question mark on how these funds are being governed. In this specific case, only 5% of the total PKR 10.561 trillion have been authorised under the supplementary funds, meaning that the National Assembly was bypassed for the remaining 95% of these funds. Again, such unbelievable disregard for rules and regulations presents us with important questions related to the financial framework in Pakistan that seems to only abuse public money by those in the government offices.

This report doesn’t include high-frequency transactions below PKR 1 million of the subject 40 out of 50 ministries; therefore, furthering the opaqueness of the financial reporting system. Similarly, the recovery amount from the government watchdogs managing oversights of these public funds add up to below 1% of the total subject money. The primary mandate of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government was not just an anti-corruption drive. PTI also cashed on the idea that it will bring reforms in spending of public money. Next audit report will gauge the incumbent government’s measures in this regard. It is high time for the government to take necessary steps to prevent irregularities on such a scale.