KARACHI: Massive irregularities running into millions of rupees have been unearthed in the accounts of public universities and boards in Sindh. The officials not only misappropriated funds but were also fraudulently transferring the money between accounts and violating various rules governing the use of funds and personnel appointments against various posts.
Detailing the suspicious movement of funds in the “Audit Report on the Accounts of Government of Sindh Audit Year 2017-18”, submitted to the Sindh Assembly, the auditor general revealed that NED University of Engineering, Karachi caused a loss of Rs62.3 million to the government due to the failure to complete doctorate degrees (PhDs) within the stipulated timeframe.
During the audit of the office of NED vice-chancellor, it was observed that the university recommended eight assistant professors or associate professors for PhD scholarships at a total cost of Rs62.377 million to different foreign universities for a stipulated period of three years. None of the officials completed their studies within the stipulated period, which resulted in financial and losses in terms of quality of education provided to students.
“It creates doubts on the selection of proper persons recommended for scholarships, or deliberate inefficiency due to ill intention shown by teaching staff aboard. Even after spending six years, extensions are still being granted to them. “This is totally against the rules,” the auditor general said.
During the same audit of the NED University, it was observed that an amount Rs7.831 was paid for the Masters programme scholarships under a human resource development programme which was part of the mega III programme, instead of PhD scholarships as required in the PC-I.
“This seemed to be an undue favour allowed to the employees.”
The audit also expressed concern over the appointment criteria in NED. Referring to positions of assistant professor and IT manager, the audit paras said minimum qualifications of BE engineering in computer science or masters in computer science with four years of experience was required for the post, but the university appointed a man named Shariq in an “undue favour” while ignoring all 13 other candidates who fulfilled the qualification and experience requirements. “Around Rs7 million fund was granted for each faculty member for PhD training. It was observed that an amount of Rs79.845 million was paid for scholarships in countries other than those approved in the plan’s PC-I.
This was also described as an “undue favour” allowed to employees without amendment to the PC-I, which was approved by a competent forum.
The audit said that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto University (SMBBU), Larkana spent Rs9.5 million in 2015-16 to buy new vehicles, even though there was a ban on purchasing of vehicles at the time. Interestingly, the audit says this was done without the approval of the Sindh chief minister, who heads the boards and universities.
“The different universities and boards have shown expenses of Rs8.18 million on account of advertisements without fulfilling formalities,” the report said. “SMBBU, Larkana spent Rs105 million on civil works without the preparation of a PC-I of the project,” the report added.
The auditor general further observed that the construction of Benazir Institute of Nursing and Community Health Science (BINACHS) at an estimated cost of Rs117 million and construction of Amin Block worth Rs58 million were started in SMBBU, Larkana, but the contractor did not complete the works and just left.
“Neither the management took any action against the defaulter, nor penalised or blacklisted them.” Moreover, the security amount was deposited in a bank instead of the treasury and details of forfeiture of the security deposit of Rs3 million was not provided to audit, the report added.
Meanwhile, the audit of Liaquat University of Medical Science, Jamshoro found expenditure of Rs75.5 million incurred on the establishment of Bilawal Medical College, Jamshoro from the regular budget of the university in violation of the budget policy of the Higher Education Commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2019.