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Economy

Is there anything Transparent in ECP? Auditor Identifies Financial Discrepancies in RTS

‘controversial’ electronic Result Transmission System becomes more controversial

Financial irregularities have been pointed out by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) in the ‘controversial’ electronic Result Transmission System (RTS) that was introduced in the 2018 general election but failed to function.

On Wednesday, the audit report was submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which says that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the ECP had on Feb 18, 2018, signed an agreement to execute the RTS.

The ECP was required to release Rs182.58 million to NADRA on completion of the assignment.

“The management entered into an agreement with the ECP for the preparation of software ‘Electronic Result Transmission System’ on Feb 12, 2018, against a lump sum amount of Rs182.584 million. The proposed Result Transmission System would be a comprehensively developed system that would enable presiding officers at polling stations to record and save results in the system and electronically transmit them to respective returning officers by their mobile phones. The returning officers thereafter will review, compile and transmit the result to the ECP by using a web-based application”.

The audit observed.

It was further highlighted in the audit reports that “the software was to be used in the general elections in July 2018. An amount of Rs130 million is still recoverable from the ECP due to some technical issues in the software”.

The report added that NADRA sustained a loss of Rs4 million on account of excessive cost incurred on the project compared to the contracted amount, the report added.

“The irregularity occurred due to weak internal control and poor contract management, resulting in loss to NADRA”

In 2018, ECP conducted a pilot project of RTS in NA-4 (Peshawar) where the presiding officers entered the result into the application along with the picture of FORM XIV by using a specialized mobile application which was transmitted to the ECP server. The pilot project of RTS was also conducted in the PS-114 Karachi by-election which was successfully implemented.

However, on July 25, 2018, the system collapsed during the counting and transmission of election results. The public was informed by ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad on TV well after midnight that the RTS had “collapsed” and that the commission was returning to the traditional method of manually tabulating the results.

Even after the news conference of the ECP secretary, NADRA, on the other hand, claimed that the system was “fully functional”.

On Wednesday, the director-general audit highlighted the audit-para before the PAC where Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, highlighted that the RTS was worth Rs182 million and it had collapsed during the counting of the results and generated controversy.

The audit pointed out that “the irregularity occurred due to weak internal control and poor contract management, resulting in loss to NADRA” and recommended inquiry into the matter. NADRA further said Rs82 million out of Rs130 million had been recovered while serious efforts were being made for the recovery of the remaining outstanding amount of Rs47.9 million.

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