17 Oct 2017/Tuesday
As per the news reported today by leading Pakistani new paper – Dawn, it has been observed by The auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) that irregularities worth hundreds of billions of rupees in the award of various road projects by the National Highway Authority (NHA), including certain projects initiated under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
There have been at least 52 cases, involving an amount of around Rs470 billion, where irregular award of contracts, violations of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and unauthorised expenditures were observed. Not only this but also around 102 cases show massive amount of weakness in internal controls that led to irregularities/losses to the tune of around Rs120bn.
One of the main NHA projects mentioned in the report was the Rs148bn engineering, procurement and construction of a 230km section of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway between Lahore and Abdul Hakeem. The work was awarded to a joint venture (JV) of China Railway 20 Bureau Corporation (CR20G) and Zahid Khan & Brothers (ZKB) on Dec 8, 2015.
According to the report, a joint venture of ZKB and the China Gezhouba Group Company was disqualified in the pre-qualification process. However, ZKB was given another opportunity to form another JV with CR20G at the bidding stage, in violation of PPRA rules. At the time of bidding, the lowest bidder also did not provide the mandatory bid security of Rs500 million, and consequently, the bid was supposed to be declared “non-responsive”.
Later, the JV reduced their bid from Rs159.784bn to Rs148.654bn following negotiations between the NHA and the contractor, another violation of PPRA rules, the report said. “It is evident that the work was awarded irregularly. The issue has also been highlighted by Transparency International… had the work been retendered, and in packages, it would have been awarded on much lesser rates,” the report said.
In another incident, the auditors also found something fishy in the award of a Rs294.352bn contract for the Sukkur-Multan section of the motorway, awarded to the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC). The project, whose cost was estimated by CSCEC at Rs 240.158bn was awarded to the same firm at higher rates, the report said, adding that the rates quoted by CSCEC were “very much on the higher side”.
Looking at the scenario, it is clearly visible that Pakistan’s corrupt politicians and bureaucrats with the help of China are minting billions and billions whereas the common man of Pakistan is suffering from poverty and terrorism… Not to mention the basic human rights violations suffered by Baloch people.