ISLAMABAD: Transparency International–Pakistan (TI-P) has asked Ministry of Communication to post all motorway and other contracts under CPEC and non-CPEC awarded from 2013 to 2018, as well as, from 2018-2021, along with rates/prices on PPRA website to verify the authenticity of charges of kickbacks levelled by the Minister for Communication, Murad Saeed.
In a letter to Secretary Communication, TI-P said that the Minister of Communications has claimed that the motorway contracts awarded from 2013-2018 were three times higher in cost than the cost of motorway contracts being awarded in2020/21 which caused financial loss of over Rs1,000 billion due to corruption.
According to the TIP’s letter signed by Yasmeen Lari, Chairperson and Justice retired Nasira Iqbal, Vice-Chairperson, if statements are not based on facts, such a statement by a Federal Minister is harmful for the credibility of National Highways Authority (NHA) itself, contractors including Chinese companies, consultants, and compromises the credibility of Pakistan by foreign investors, mainly CPEC, financial institutions/IFIs.
TI-P argued that conflicting statements have been issued by the Ministers and the Prime Minister.
The Minister for Communication on September 28, 2021 said that the NHA projects were Rs1 trillion more expensive during 2013-2018, and the Minister for information claimed that the Federal Cabinet was told that the roads being constructed by the NHA today were almost Rs100 million/KM cheaper than the roads built during the previous government.
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The Prime Minister on September29, 2021 said, “We are spending Rs200 million/KM less on a four-lane road than the ones executed back in 2013”.
The letter further contends that in order to verify the claims of the Ministers of Communications and Information and the PM, the PPRA website was checked and it was found that unfortunately NHA had not posted the actually awarded contracts on PPRA website. According to PPRA Rules 2004, Rule No. 47, it is mandatory/essential for the NHA to follow the legal requirements of posting all contracts with BOQ etc., including motorway and other projects on PPRA website.
TI-P maintained that NHA should not have violated the mandatory requirement of PPRA rules. Since 2018, present Minister of Communications carries the responsibility for committing the same violation of Rule No.47 in NHA and all other departments of the Ministry.
The application of Rule No. 47 by NHA must be implemented in order to ascertain the truth of the allegation by the Federal Minister that big corruption was committed in 2013-2018 contracts of NHA.
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After examining the complaint, Transparency International- Pakistan, has submitted the following comments and recommendations: (i) the allegation of violation of PPRA Rules 2004, Rule No 47, is correct, and the NHA has not uploaded on the PPRA website the awarded contracts documents of all contracts, from 2013 to 2021, viz. BOQ, contract agreements, conditions of contracts, and Specifications etc.; (ii) Transparency International- Pakistan, in its letter of November 17, 2020 had reminded Chairman, National Highway Authority, Ministry of Communication, PSPM, PPRA and Supreme Court of Pakistan of the illegality being committed by NHA, but unfortunately neither NHA nor the Ministry of Communication cared to follow the law; and (iii) it is to be noted that the cost of construction of roads depends on various factors, such as design parameters, specifications, terrain/filling/cut-ting/designed load/embank-ment protection/sizes of lane, depth of base and sub base, carpeting thickness, culverts and bridges, etc.
The price escalation and rupee depreciation during last 9 years is very high. The prices of MS Bars in2013 was Rs 80,000/ton, in 2021 it is Rs 145,000/ton, and US $ vs Pak Rupee rates in 2013 were Rs 100/$ and in 2021 it is at Rs 165, which has to be checked/verified from 2013 contracts of NHA.
According to the TI-P, one example of this cost variation of road contracts due to design/drainage structures/terrain/spec and etc. factors is in the recently awarded two contracts by NHA in 2021 for the construction of Ziarat Mor–Kach Harnai Road and Harnai–Sanjavi Road.