Islamabad: Pakistan's former ruling party PPP reportedly doled out Rs 125 billion of taxpayers' money to lawmakers for development projects ahead of the 2013 polls but failed to garner support among voters, a media report said, which also cited impropriety in handling the funds.
The PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari spent the money through its lawmakers ostensibly on development projects during its five-year tenure from 2008 to 2013.
The Express Tribune reported that Rs 125 billion spent by PPP in five years was nearly four times larger than Rs 33.8 billion spent by all lawmakers in the preceding 23 years (1985-2008) combined.
"Through a review of government documents and background interviews, The Express Tribune has found the scale of the PPP's attempts to win the affections of voters, and the monumental futility of its efforts," the report said.
"And yet, six out of the 10 most profligate spenders (lawmakers) for the PPP were voted out of office," it said.
The paper also said that apparently the money was pocketed as a look at the record suggests that there was massive impropriety and negligence in record-keeping with these development funds, if not outright embezzlement, it said.
A total of 5,212 projects were initiated at the behest of lawmakers in their constituencies and were authorised by former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and his successor Raja Pervez Ashraf, between 2008 and 2013, worth a collective Rs 125 billion.
Of these, there is absolutely no financial or other record for 1,930 projects, worth Rs 20 billion, the report said.
In a majority of cases, government rules on awarding contracts were not followed, leading to allegations of corruption.
Of the projects commissioned, 1,823 (35 per cent) were never completed, with some having a progress rate of less than 9 per cent.
And the Public Works Department as well as the Auditor General conducted special audits on only 330 projects and even that on orders from the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The government's top financial watchdog failed to conduct any audits on 1,930 (37 per cent) projects.
The distribution of the projects reflects how desperate the PPP leadership was to use development funding to retain its political foothold in Punjab.
Of the 125 billion Pakistani Rupees total spending, Rs 59.5 billion went to Punjab, Rs 31 billion to Sindh, Rs 19 billion in Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa, Rs 8.7 billion in Balochistan, Rs 7.3 billion in the tribal areas?and Rs 500 million in Islamabad.
The spending spree continued on 696 projects even after an order from the apex court to cease such spending in the run-up to the 2013 elections.