ISLAMABAD-Terming the appointment of an officer of the Finance Division as external auditor of Department of Auditor General as conflict of interest, the Auditor General of Pakistan has said that audit of the AGP has to be conducted as prescribed under the law.

In a letter to Finance Division, Auditor General of Pakistan said that neither the external audit of office of the Auditor General of Pakistan has ever been conducted in the past nor is this office resorting to any pretext to deny it. The office of the Auditor General of Pakistan believes in the accountability of public institutions, said the letter the copy of which is available with The Nation. 

The interpretation of the Constitutional provisions on the legal status of the AGP offered by the Law Division is not consistent with the Constitution, the letter said. The Auditor General of Pakistan is not part of the federal government as defined in Chapter 3 of the Constitution. Article 90 of the Constitution envisages that federal government is the executive authority of the Federation consisting of the Prime Minister and the federal ministers, which shall act through the Prime Minister, who shall be the chief executive of the Federation. Under the Constitutional scheme, Auditor General of Pakistan, appointed under Article 168 by the President, does not report to the executive authority and is independent of federal government and enjoys special safeguards for independence in performance of its functions. The letter further elaborated that the audit of office of the Auditor General of Pakistan is not governed under the provisions of Article 170 (2) of the Constitution. The scope of audit of office of the ASP, envisaged in Section 19A of the Auditor-General’s (Functions, Powers & Terms and Conditions of Service) Ordinance. 200) etc., as provided in Section 19A, is limited to audit of sanctions. 

Disparaging remarks and impolite language used by the Finance Division in its letter N014 (61/08 (PAC)/2020-590 dated 10 August. 2020 may be avoided in future communication with the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan, the letter added.

Meanwhile, the spokesman to the AGP, Muhammad Raza Shah in a statement said that the audit has to be conducted as prescribed under the law. Section 19-A of AGP Ordinance 2001 calls for audit of sanctions to expenditure accorded by the Auditor General of Pakistan. Giving the detail about the matter, the spokesman states that Section 19-A was inserted in the Auditor General’s Ordinance, 2001, through Finance Act, 2015. Section 19-A requires the audit of the sanctions accorded by the Auditor General by an independent officer appointed by the President of Pakistan. 

The spokesperson further informs that some officers of Pakistan Audit & Accounts Service have filed Writ Petition in Islamabad High Court and challenged the amendment of Auditor General’s Ordinance, 2001 in Finance Act, 2015 as money bill. The petitioners have prayed before the honorable court that appointment of an officer of the Finance Division as external auditor of Department of Auditor General involves conflict of interest likely to lead to a situation ‘where they will not be able to accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively, when not independent of their audited entity and thus not protected against outside influence’. Meanwhile, the honorable court has issued a prohibitive order.