Public assets: Ministry seeks data to share it with IMF

Finance Ministry has sought authentic data of public assets from ministries and entities to share it with International Monetary Fund (IMF) for public financing, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

At a recent meeting, Finance Ministry briefed the concerned divisions and entities that the IMF has recommended actions on an issue that the data on public assets was inconsistent and not easily centralised to support planning of public investment and budgeting for maintenance.

The IMF recommended to prepare and publish rules and procedures for federal ministries to retain and make accessible information on public assets and develop standard methodologies for assessing the needs and cost of routine and capital maintenance for the main asset classes.

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In this regard, the first action to draft guidelines, in consultation with Planning Commission and the line ministries, is required to be completed by June, 2024.

The participants of the meeting were informed that in order to compile details of assets, the Finance Division, under Part XI of the Budget Call Circular, 2024-25, has issued instructions that each Principal Accounting Officer (PAO) should allocate adequate funds for operation and maintenance of physical infrastructure/ assets. The PAOs shall also assure that maximum possible returns are achieved on each and every asset falling under their oversight.

The participants of the meeting were asked to intimate about their existing rules, policies, guidelines and mechanism for managing the entire cycle of physical assets like acquiring or building assets, maintenance of inventory, reporting mechanism, renovation, rehabilitation, up-gradation, repair & maintenance of the aging assets, etc.

The representative from Accountant General Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) intimated that while processing proposals for payment of bills of acquisition of assets or building of physical assets, AGPR maintains record of such payments and report since the year 2017 when digitalisation of records started which can be generated to report the amounts involved in acquisition of assets by various Ministries/ Divisions or their departments.

The representatives dealing with corporate entities like Pakistan Railways, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), National Highway Authority (NHA), and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) intimated that the balance sheets of these entities contain information about fixed assets which can be reported as and when required. They also stated that these entities do have policy guidelines and procedures to procure or build assets and their maintenance, etc. However, sometimes allocation of funds for repair and maintenance are insufficient for proper maintenance.

Infrastructure of government; i.e., ministries, divisions and departments; etc., are built and maintained by Pakistan Public Works Department (Pak PWD). PWD has policies and procedures for building and maintenance of such assets. General Financial (GFR) contain rules on execution maintenance and disposal of the stores and works. This is the acquisition of stores and works which creates government assets, besides the land owned by the state which is used for public works. Pak Public Works Department (PPWD) operations are also guided by the Central Public Works Department Code and the Central Public Works Accountant Code. The works thus created by the PPWD are owned by the respective Ministries and Divisions.

The representative of the Planning Division informed that the immediate task required by the IMF is preparation of draft guidelines for public assets management and once the draft guidelines are prepared by June 2024, the cut off time line, the conditionality would be met; thereafter the same would be discussed in the CDWP and ECNEC and discussion at such for a will bring improvement. However, immediate concern should be to draft the guideline.

After discussion, it was decided that Pakistan Post also possesses physical assets and representative from Pakistan Post under M/o Communications should also be included as co-opted member of the Committee.

It was also decided that all the participating divisions and entities should provide copies of the relevant rules, regulations, policies, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP); etc., to the Finance Division, which would be discussed in the next meeting to formulate generic guidelines in consultation with Planning Division.


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