KARACHI - The Sindh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee has sought the opinion of the Finance Department whether the funds being spent by the public universities in terms of overpayment of allowances to their employees were in accordance with the financial rules of the provincial government.However, vice-chancellors and officials have termed the allowances for university teachers necessary; otherwise they would not serve in public universities, especially in rural districts of the province.The PAC, which met with its chairman Sardar Jam Tamachi Unar in the chair at the Sindh Assembly’s committee room on Wednesday, discussed the audit paras of audit report of public universities, including the Karachi University, Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur and Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Sukkur for the financial year-2006-07, 07-08 and 08-09. During the discussion on five audit paras of the Karachi University, the provincial accountability body settled the four paras after production of record of amount spent by the varsity which was pertained to the non-adjustment of advances, non-recovery of dues and non-recovery paid to the university staff/academic staff during the fiscal year 2006-07. However, the PAC deferred an audit para of the report, in which the irregular payments of conveyance allowance of Rs3.601 million were made by the Karachi University to its academic staff.The Sindh Assembly’s PAC raised objections over the payment of conveyance allowance to the university staff living in the varsity campus, which was in violation of the financial rules of the Finance Department.However, the KU finance director, in reply to the PAC, said that the approximate campus area of the varsity was more than 1,200 acres. “The university has its campus area where employees (teaching and non-teaching) have been residing for the last more than three decades; however, the residential area is two to three kilometers far away from the departments of the teaching staff. Consequently, such employees are using their own conveyance to move to and from their residences,” the director told the PAC. Later, the university syndicate allowed the conveyance allowance to such employees residing on the campus. Meanwhile, the Audit Department of the Sindh government in its audit comments said that the overpayment paid by the Karachi University to its employees residing within the residential campus of university might be recovered from the employees concerned, suggesting strengthening of internal control to avoid such recurrence in the future. The representative of the Audit Department pointed out that the payment in terms of conveyance allowance to the employees of Karachi University, who living in the official residences the university residential campus, is in violation of financial rules of the finance department. The PAC sought the views of the representative of Finance Department of Sindh government, who confirmed that the financial rules also apply for the public runs universities.With the consent of the other members of the accountability body, the PAC chairman while deferring the audit para directed the PAC secretariat to write to the provincial secretary of finance department, seeking views whether the overpayments by the public universities to its employees in terms of conveyance and medical allowances are in contravention of financial rules of provincial government or not.Besides, out of total seven audit paras of the audit report for 2006-07, 07-08 and 08-09 of Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur, the PAC settled the three audit paras, deferring four paras due to non-production of record of funds spent by the university.After discussion, the PAC deferred the para 17.1 pertaining to expenditure of Rs0.425 million without inviting the open tender. The Vice Chancellor of Shah Latif University Khairpur Dr Nelofer Shaikh submitted the PAC that the funds spent by the varsity without open tender were of urgent basis, involving of installation of cooper cable, sanitary work, RCC pipe water cooler, motoer pump, repair of generator and other work of maintenance in girls hostel and various departments. But the VC of University failed in producing the relevant record, which led into deferment of the para. With regard to irregular payment of Rs1.548 million in terms of medical allowance and non-adjustment of advances of Rs4.142 million paid by the Khairpur University to its employees, the VC University Dr Nelofer Shaikh argued that teachers of the university have no residential and medical facilities as they living in one or two room official residences with their families. She underlined the need to verify the para, arguing that if University does not pay them the medical allowances and advances the teachers may leave the university. Despite the submission of VC of Shah Latif University, the PAC deferred the para. After completion of discussion on the audit paras of university, the VC of Shal Latif University left the meeting, but after some moments the PAC chairman directed the PAC staff to contact the VC on phone as accountability wants to settle the same audit para. On arrival of VC in the meeting again, the PAC chairman said that they are settling the audit para, so the university could improve the education.