President holds Education Ministry responsible for lapse of foreign grant

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Zubair Qureshi

President Dr. Arif Alvi has held the Ministry of Education responsible for criminal waste, inefficiency and irresponsibility for non- utilization of Germany’s grant of Rs. 13.707 million since 1993-94.

In a statement on Monday, the president stated that the donation, which was given 30 years ago for the purchase of paper to enable printing of low-cost textbooks, remained unutilized until today, while the government was asking for grants and loans internationally to meet its immediate needs.The president has directed the hitherto defunct Ministry of Education and now the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training to conduct an inquiry and hold those responsible of this lapse accountable and take action against them according to law.

He cautioned the Ministry of Education not to shift the burden of such inquiries on the retired and the deceased people and directed it to submit the compliance report to the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) within 45 days.

While regretting the negligence on part of the then government, Dr Alvi highlighted in his decision on the appeal by the Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS) against the decision of FTO highlighted that the said money remained in non-profit bearing account for 6 years and nobody cared about it. Had it been an officer’s personal money, he/she would have not allowed even one day to lapse and would have deposited it in a profit scheme, he remarked.

The President termed the act of the Ministry of Education for non-utilization of principal amount and profit thereof which had increased to Rs. 54,265,500 as shameful as the money that was supposed to be used for the purchase of papers to make the school text books cheaper was parked in an investment scheme without any utilization it was intended to.The president deplored the Ministry of Education on mainly two accounts; one that the said Ministry did not bother, did not care, and totally forgot about a foreign grant given for the purchase of paper for cheaper text books 30 years ago and secondly, due to this criminal negligence the people of Pakistan were deprived of Rs. 36,357,051 as profit that could have been earned if the money was properly invested.

He observed that Ministry of Education also failed to obtain the Income Tax and Zakat deduction exemption certificates to claim exemption from deduction of withholding tax and Zakat which as per policy in vogue was admissible to the Ministry.

As a result CDNS deducted both Withholding Tax & Zakat on account of non-furnishing of exemption certificate which again reflected poorly on the Ministry of Education’s ability to handle government investment prudently and efficiently.

President Alvi exonerated the CDNS on account of acting in good faith and on deduction of both withholding tax and Zakat due to want of Exemption Certificates.

He also directed the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training to approach the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Zakat Department for getting Exemption Certificates with retrospective effect and also directed the FBR and Zakat Department to consider issuance of Exemption Certificates on “One Time Basis” in accordance with the Rules and Regulations.

 

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