ISLAMABAD: The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) recently raised objection to the overpayment of Rs308 million to the employees of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) as health professional allowance (HPA). It has been recommended that the amount be recovered and the practice discontinued forthwith.
However, DRAP Chief Executive Officer Dr Asim Rauf said the allowance was approved by the policy board and included in the salaries of last month. He said such objections were settled in the past and hoped that it would be settled again by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
According to the audit paras, the federal government through the Finance Division granted one basic pay of running salary as HPA to the “health personal” in the employment of the federal government. It was stated that the HPA was only admissible to the health personnel serving in the federal government hospitals and clinics.
“Moreover, the Finance Division (regulation wing) while approving the pay scales and allowances of Drap employees in 2015 stated that the ad hoc relief allowance granted from 2010 to 2014 shall not be allowed. House rent allowance, medical allowance and conveyance allowance may be kept frozen till the next revision of pay scales. However, the DRAP management paid over Rs308 million as HPA to its employees during 2015-18,” said the auditors.
The audit also observed that HPA was paid to the employees of DRAP although it was not a federal government hospital or clinic. Moreover, it was not approved by the Finance Division.
The auditor general recommended that not only the amount should be recovered from the employees but also further payments should be stopped.
An official in the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting anonymity, said as DRAP earned a lot of money or generated funds on its own so its management decided to pay HPA to the employees.
“As per practice, the Federal Investigation Agency deals with cases up to Rs50 million and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) deals with cases involving over Rs50 million. So NAB should intervene and ensure recovery of the amount,” he said.
However, an official of DRAP, requesting not to be quoted, said the health professional allowance was being paid to employees of a number of departments and divisions since 2012.
“The allowance is paid to employees of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, Nursing Council, Health Services Academy etc. Moreover, in 2017, the Supreme Court gave a judgment due to which Special Education Department, National Council of Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons and Trust for the Disabled also started paying the health allowance,” he said.
Dr Rauf said the Policy Board of DRAP had approved the HPA due to which it was paid to the employees.