ISLAMABAD - The audit authorities have detected the financial embezzlement, mismanagement, irregularities and losses worth Rs 31.43 billion in accounts of the National Highway Authority (NHA) during last year.

The audit authorities have raised 61 audit objections on the NHA’s accounts out of those 22 audit paras related to the irregularities and non-compliance, 37 regarding the internal control weaknesses and two paras highlighting the non-receipt of posit share of provincial government and irregularities in the Authority.

The audit report made several observations in five categories including irregular awards of contracts costing Rs 11.22 billion, overpayments worth Rs 3.21 billion, loss to Authority worth Rs 3.16 billion, unjustified payments to contractors valuing Rs 22.4 billion, mismanagement in different works costing Rs 8.50 billion and non-recovery of Rs 2.68 billion.

Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) report said the road contracts worth Rs 11223.82 million were awarded to the blue-eyed contractors without adopting proper tendering procedure and contrary to the rules of NHA. The report observed due to the negligence on part of the NHA officials, the Authority suffered the overpayments of Rs 3214.07 million due to higher rates and non-deduction of income tax and price escalation of material and others.

The report observed NHA faced loss of Rs 3169.25 million due to payment of amicable settlement, non-collection of revenue, theft of vehicles and award of work without considering risk and cost and imprudent decisions by the officials of the Authority.

According to the audit report, NHA officials could not recover the amount of Rs 2686.87 million, including the one paid for repair of flood damages, rent of NHA land used by contractor, mobilisation advance and interest from contractors, cost of maintenance works due to non finalisation of construction of N-50, non-deduction cost of excavated stone and dues of promotional displays on the roads of the Authority.

NHA officials made unjustified payments worth Rs 2248.34 million including the payment for resettlement (ADB) allowance and one additional cost compensation, change in source of material through post-bid amendment and engagement of consultants on maintenance works.

The report identifies the mismanagement of Rs 8504.68 million in NHA accounts due to non provision of performance security from AA rating insurance company, misprocurement of services, non obtaining of insurance policies of works and irregular purchase of luxury vehicles and unauthorised appointments.

The AGP office made repeated attempts to hold a Departmental Accounts Committee meeting for settling the observations but the NHA did not bother.