By Abid Usman
ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has found massive irregularities in Zakat and Baitul Mall funds during audit year 2019/20.
In compliance with the apex courtâ€™s order in Covid-19 suo motu case, a report was submitted by the AGP office in which it had been stated that the audit of 100% budget was carried out and irregularities to the tune of Rs3.1 billion were found by the audit.
The Pakistan Baitul Malâ€™s budget was Rs5 billion and the irregular expenditures amount to 62% of it, according to the report. An amount of Rs475 million recoveries were also pointed out in the report.
The report said that the total budget of Zakat department was Rs7. 38 billion. A sample audit of 13% of this budget, which amounted to Rs961 million, was carried out in which irregularities of Rs574 million â€“ or 60% of the audited amount â€“ were detected.
The reply said that Zakat collected by the federal government was being transferred to provinces as per formula. Out of the total collection, 7% is being retained for the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), [former] Federally Administer Tribal Areas (Fata) and Gilgit-Baltistan.
â€œThe share of the ICT is 35%, [ex-]Fata 46% and GB 19%. The remaining 93% share is given to the provinces. The provincial share is 57% for Punjab, 24% for Sindh, 14% for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and 5% for Balochistan,â€ it said.
The Audit if Zakat is being conducted since 1986. The Council of Islamic Idealogy (CCI) had told the Supreme Court that Zakat fund could be used for administrative purposes but with caution and that the usage should be minimised.
On April 20, a larger bench examined the reports regarding the Zakat fund. The court in its order expressed dissatisfaction with the response from the provincial governments regarding its distribution. â€œThe same appears to be the case with regards to the funds of the Baitul Mal,â€ said the court order.
â€œAs such, we require more detailed information about their distribution and specific reports are required from each of the Provincial Governments, ICT and GB, showing transparency in the distribution of Zakat and Baitul Mal funds,â€ the order had stated.
â€œWe also want to know as to what criteria has been adopted by the provincial governments, ICT and GB, for making payments to the beneficiaries of Zakat and Baitul Mal funds, and what is the breakdown of the amount vis-a-vis the payment of money to needy people and the expenses incurred on the administrative side of these two departments,â€ it had added.
â€œAn opinion from the Ulema, as to how Zakat and Baitul Mal funds can be utilised, is required to be obtained and hence, opinions of the chairman, Council of Islamic Ideology, and also of Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, an Islamic scholar and a former Judge of Shariat Appellate Bench of this court, be obtained in this regard; particularly, on the question as to whether Zakat and Baitul Mal funds can at all be utilised for payment of salaries to the employees and officers of these two departments so also to incur administrative expenses of these departments.â€