ISLAMABAD - The audit authorities have detected Rs 3.331 billion embezzlement on account of mismanagement, irregularities and losses in the accounts of Higher Education Commission (HEC) during the last year.

The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP), in its report, has raised 51 audit objections on the HEC’s accounts, 22 of these pertain to the irregularities and non-compliance, 29 to the internal control weaknesses and one highlights the fraud of 12 laptops.

The audit report made several observations in five categories including irregular awards of work costing Rs 2.69 billion, non-recovery of Rs 153.53 million, loss to the Commission worth Rs 107.68 million, overpayments worth Rs 93.93 million, unjustified payments of Rs 76.26 million to contractors, non-imposition of liquid damages and non-obtaining of insurances amounting to Rs 105 million and misappropriation of 12 laptops worth Rs 1.0 million.

The report said various universities awarded Rs 2,696.54 million contracts to the blue-eyed contractors without adopting proper tendering procedure and criteria of Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).

Due to the negligence of the officials of different universities, the Commission suffered a loss of Rs 93.93 million on account of overpayments, such payment of house rent ceilings at higher rates, non-deduction of rebate, inclusion of extra amounts in item’s rate and on account of price escalation of material and others.

The report observed that the HEC incurred a loss of Rs 107.68 million, due to non return of PhD scholars from abroad after completion of their degrees, due to acceptance of work at higher rates beyond permissible limits, non-acceptance of the lowest bids and imprudent decisions by the officials of the universities.

According to the audit report, the HEC officials could not recover Rs 153.93 million due to non-encashment of performance security on default of contractors and risk and cost charges.

A number of unjustified payments worth Rs 76.26 million were made to the contractors, including the non-execution of Bill of Quantities item, extraordinary change in the scope of work and extra expenditures in different projects.

The report identified the misappropriations and mismanagement of more than Rs 10 million in the HEC accounts due to mis-procurement of contracts without arrangement of competition and non-obtaining of insurances.