LAHORE – MIAN DAWOOD - A audit report released recently points out that financial irregularities and embezzlement of more than Rs450 million were committed in the accounts of Punjab Police and Prisons Department in fiscal year 2010-11.

The report, which is available with TheNation, questions the claims of good governance being widely made by the Punjab government. Its findings show that most of the financial malpractices were committed by the Police Department.

“The irregularities have been committed by the hidden hands that continue to influence the Accounts and Finance Branch of the Police Department, and are specialists in the field,” an audit official, who also audited the accounts of the Police Department in fiscal year 2009-2010, told this scribe.

The report divulges that the provincial kitty incurred a loss of Rs22.463 million because of theft, snatching and accidents of vehicles and arms, but the department’s higher-ups neither held any official responsible nor the lost amount was written off. Similarly, an amount of Rs80.986 million was embezzled by Punjab Police officials who consumed fuel beyond their entitlement.

The report notes that the department has not yet received Rs61.532 million from the National Bank of Pakistan against the services of police guards in Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Lahore and Rahim Yar Khan districts. The department ‘distributed’ Rs56.698 million among suspended employees, some of them also on long leave, in violation of rules and regulations, the report further says.

In addition, the Punjab Police deprived the provincial kitty of revenue worth Rs32.291 million by not depositing the amount in the department’s accounts. The audit official alleged that police officials drew millions of rupees for their personal use but posted the amounts under various heads. He referred to an irregular expenditure of Rs45.855 million, which police officials used for purchase of stationary and printing.

The report says district police officers of Gujrat and Muzaffargarh drew Rs7.361 million from the government treasury in 2009-2010, but the same has not so far been disbursed. The auditors have recommended investigating the matter and fixing the responsibility.

Either department officials misused or embezzled Rs144.644 million under various heads, including non-receipt of stores, non-disposal of un-serviceable vehicles, repair of buildings and vehicles, and others, the report points out. The audit official said that they had forwarded these irregularities and malpractices to the Punjab Departmental Accounts Committees, but no action had so far been taken.