IMF pushes Pak PM to disclose COVID-19 relief package expenditures

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressured Imran Khan government to disclose expenditures on the COVID-19 relief package for audit, which further unveiled irregularities worth Pakistani rupees (PKR) 40 billion.


ANI | Islamabad | Updated: 27-11-2021 15:31 IST | Created: 27-11-2021 15:31 IST
IMF pushes Pak PM to disclose COVID-19 relief package expenditures
Representative Image. Image Credit: ANI
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressured Imran Khan government to disclose expenditures on the COVID-19 relief package for audit, which further unveiled irregularities worth Pakistani rupees (PKR) 40 billion. Pakistan on Friday released its expenditures on COVID-19 after six months of pressure from the International Monetary Fund. Pakistan released its audit report of COVID-19 expenses to IMF, wherein distortion of over PKR 40 billion was unveiled, reported Tribune.

According to the audit analysis by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP), the COVID-19 expenditure report exposed misprocurement, payments to ineligible beneficiaries, cash withdrawal through fake biometrics and procurements of substandard goods by Utility Stores Corporation (USC) for consumption. Reportedly, the designated auditors endeavoured to investigate PKR 354.3 billion expenses, however unveiled irregularities worth PKR 40 billion.

As per the audit reports, the major discrepancy was found under the banner of the Benazir Income Support Programme followed by Utility Stores Corporation Pakistan. Apart from this, questions were raised for doubtful and irregular expenditures by Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority and the Defence Ministry, reported Tribune. The said audit involved accounts scrutiny of Pakistan's government agencies and relief activities departments, in the context of COVID-19 related expenses, for the year ending June 30, 2020.

The audit also included a loan tagged as COVID-19 relief package, worth USD 1.4 billion given by the United Nations' International Monetary Fund to the Pakistan government, reported Tribune. Tribune quoted prime issues as disclosed by AGP as, "instances of mis-procurements, delays in the delivery of procured items, procurement without proper need assessment, instances of weak financial controls, lack of proper record-keeping and non-production of records to audit authorities."

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan approved a stimulus package worth PKR 1.24 trillion to curb COVID-19, in March of the previous year. The aim of the economic package was to control the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring adequate medical facilities across the country along with economic and business assistance, reported Tribune. Pertinently, the monetary relief discharged was merely PKR 354.2 billion until June 2020. The report further claimed that, due to less supply of financial assistance, Pakistan could not cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and endured economic adversities.

"The finance ministry issued Rs314 billion less supplementary grants from the PM's stimulus package due to which citizens of Pakistan could not avail the complete benefit of the announced package resulting in suffering, economic hardship and many private factories laying off their workers during Covid-19 process," the report said. (ANI)

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