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Pakistan Doesn’t Properly Disclose Debt Obligations: US State Department

The United States’ Department of State released its Fiscal Transparency Report in which it has mentioned that the Government of Pakistan has published limited information on debt obligations.

The report describes the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency developed, updated, and strengthened by the Department in consultation with other relevant federal agencies. It reviews governments that were originally identified in the 2014 Fiscal Transparency Report and Equatorial Guinea.

It assesses those that did not meet the minimum fiscal transparency requirements and indicates whether those governments made significant progress toward meeting the requirements during the review period of January 1 – December 31, 2019. The report also provides a description of the use of FY 2019 and FY 2020 funds through the Fiscal Transparency Innovation Fund.

During the review period, the government of Pakistan made its executive budget proposal, enacted budget, and end-of-year report widely and easily accessible to the general public, including online, said the report.

The government did not adequately disclose all government and government-guaranteed debt obligations, including financing to state-owned enterprises for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Projects.

The report added that the government published limited information on debt obligations. Publicly available budget documents provided a substantially complete picture of most of the government’s planned expenditures and revenue streams, including natural resource revenues.

The budget of the intelligence agencies was not subject to adequate parliamentary or other civilian oversight. The information in the budget was considered generally reliable and subject to audit by Pakistan’s supreme audit institution. While audit reports are made publicly available within a reasonable period of time, the reports did not provide substantive findings, recommendations, or narratives on the completeness or correctness of government accounts, claimed the report.

It further added that the criteria and procedures by which the national government awards contracts or licenses for natural resource extraction were specified in law, regulation, and other public documents. The government appeared to follow applicable laws and regulations in practice. However, basic information on natural resource extraction awards was publicly available.

The report said that Pakistan’s fiscal transparency will be improved by:

  • Making complete and timely information on government and government-guaranteed debt obligations publicly available,
  • Subjecting the intelligence agencies’ budgets to parliamentary or other civilian oversight, and
  • Including substantive findings and recommendations in the supreme audit institution’s audit report on the government’s annual financial statements.

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