WASHINGTON: A US State Department report released on Friday said Pakistan disclosed “generally reliable” information about the current fiscal budget and its audit met “international standards of independence.”

The report, which is sent to the US Congress and influences policy making, however, still placed Pakistan among the countries that did not make significant progress in improving fiscal transparency.

The report found that, of the 141 countries evaluated by the State Department, 72 met the minimum requirements for fiscal transparency. Sixty-nine did not meet the minimum requirements. Of these 69, however, 27 made significant progress toward meeting the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.

“Relatively, the report about Pakistan is not bad in comparison with some other countries in the region, like Bangladesh and Uzbekistan,” said Anis Dani, president of the World Bank Group Alumni Association, which is known as the 1818 Society. The report on Bangladesh pointed out that the country did not meet international standards of auditing.

“The information in (Pakistan’s) budget was considered generally reliable and subject to audit by the supreme audit institution. The supreme audit institution met international standards of independence,” the report noted.

The report also noted that Pakistan’s audit reports were made “publicly available within a reasonable period and provide substantive findings.”

The government “specified in law or regulation and appeared to follow in practice the criteria and procedures for awarding natural resource extraction contracts and licenses,” the report added. “Basic information on natural resource extraction awards was publicly available.”

According to the US State Department, during the review period, the Pakistani government made its budget and end-of-year report widely and easily accessible to the public, including online, but it did “not publish its executive budget proposal within a reasonable period.”

The report, however, complained that the government published limited information on debt obligations, but 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 report also noted that Pakistan’s intelligence bud­get was “not subject to adequate civilian oversight.”

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2022

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