Audit report finds irregularities in BISP accounts for 2012-13

ISLAMABAD: An audit report on the Benazir Income Support Program’s (BISP) accounts during the period when Farzana Raja was its chairperson has disclosed irregularities involving billions of rupees.

The audit report on the BISP accounts for 2012-13 produced before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has alleged “irregular appointment of State Life Insurance Corporation without open competition” which caused a loss of Rs2.74 billion.

As per the audit report, “Rule 12(2) of the Public Procurement Rules, 2004 states that all procurement opportunities over two million rupees should be advertised on the authority’s website as well as in other print media or newspapers having wide circulation.” It said that the BISP management advertised invitation for proposal in respect of Waseela-i-Sehat (health insurance) in leading newspapers on April 27, 2010 pursuant to which eight insurance companies submitted their proposals.

The evaluation committee, however, recommended inviting fresh bids since none of the proposals met the criteria, the audit report said, adding that in subsequent meeting, the BISP management board entrusted the task to State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC).

The BISP and SLIC entered into an agreement for Group Life Insurance for a period of three years from Jan 1, 2011 to Dec 23, 2013. The agreement was further extended to Dec 31, 2014 while the BISP management paid Rs2.74bn to SLIC.

The audit report observed that SLIC did not participate in the advertised invitation for proposals for the health insurance and did not have health insurance experience and the contract was awarded to SLIC without open competition.

The director general federal audit, Maqbool Gondal, recommended to the PAC that responsibility might be fixed for award of contracts without open competition to a company which did not even participate in the invitation for proposals.

Likewise, the audit pointed out that the BISP selected advertising firms without due evaluation.

According to Mr Gondal, the BISP management paid Rs1.64bn to advertising agencies in violation of PPRA (Public Procurement Regulatory Authority) rules.

He said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) started investigation into this matter, but to no avail.

When PAC Chairman Shahbaz Sharif inquired about the progress in the case, a NAB official said that the department concerned did not provide the bureau relevant record.

At this, Mr Sharif, who is currently under custody in connection with a NAB inquiry, said the bureau had found record in the case against him in 30 minutes, but it couldn’t find the record in this case in six years.

PAC member Sherry Rehman suggested that former BISP chairperson Farzana Raja might be asked to attend the meeting in order to explain the issue.

At the outset, PAC members spent four hours in discussing two leftover paras of Thursday (Jan 31). The paras related to the new Islamabad International Airport.

Despite the fact that the PPRA managing director and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general were not prepared to respond to the queries, the PAC members, mostly from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, raised a number of questions.

At one stage, the PAC chairman termed the exercise a waste of time.

He advised the members to give time to the PPRA and FIA for preparation and deferred further discussion on the airport paras till next Thursday.