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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Thursday asked the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) to revisit the language being used to frame the rules, which is creating ambiguity in interpretation and lot of audit paras.

Syed Naveed Qamar convened a meeting of sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to examine the audit report of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives for year 2016-17.

The committee suspended the proceedings of the committee over non-appearance of the chief executive officer (CEO) and director general (DG) National Logistic Cell (NLC) before the committee, and declined to accept the nominee of the NLC management for response to audit objection.

Earlier, the committee could not take up the audit paras of main Ministry of Planning as the principal accounting officer was not prepared to answer the audit objection.

The secretary planning informed the committee that most of the audit objections pertained to the SSGCL and the NLC.

The committee observed that during audit of the NLC for the year 2014-15, it was observed that the NLC Metro Project Rawalpindi management procured steel from a supplier which did not participate in the bidding process. The NLC (HA) Rawalpindi called quotations from different manufacturer for supply of steel for Metro Project and Peshawar More Project.

Seven manufacturers participated in the bid; however, final order was granted to M/s Potohar who did not participate in the bid.

A quantity of 1,522.247 m ton steel valuing Rs129.371 million at Rs 85,000 per metric ton was purchased from M/s Potohar Steel.

This resulted in non-transparent purchase of steel and considered mis-procurement under the PP Rules.

Audit was of the view that non-transparent procurement resulted in mis-procurement of steel amounting to Rs129.381 million.

Audit recommends to investigate the matter of steel procurement in violation of rules and fix the responsibility thereof.

The discussion on para was deferred due to non-availability of CEO or DG NLC. However, the committee was informed that this audit objection was raised due to difference interpretation of the PPRA Rules.

The committee also discussed audit para pertaining to loss due to non-deduction of liquidated damages worth Rs14.57 million.

The matter was referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

During audit of Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Limited (KIDCL) for year 2015-16, it was observed that a contract was awarded to M/s M Hassani Builders and Malik and Company (JV) amounting to Rs145.796 million on October 12, 2015 for construction of a water tank.

As per agreed schedule, the work was to be completed within 90 days up to January 12. 2-15.

However, the contractor failed to complete the work within the stipulated time as only 10 percent of work up to January 2016 was carried out.

Audit is of the view that the management extended undue favour to the contractor by non-imposition of LD clause which resulted into loss of Rs14.57 million.

The NAB has concluded the inquiry that extension in time granted to both contractors has been approved as per law and provision provided in the contract agreement on the recommendations of the consultant.

Extension of time did not bear any loss to the government.

The project was of a complex nature and delay of work was caused be deviation in works which shows the poor estimation by the consultant.

Subsequently, the case was discussed in the regional board meeting in which it was decided to close the instant inquiry at the NAB’s end and refer to the SIDCL for taking action against the consultants in the light of expert report as per law.

Audit official contended that investigation conducted by the NAB has only addressed the issue of non-imposition of penalty for delay in execution of works. The investigation appears to be silent with regard to illegal leases of land as this aspect has not been communicated in one of the letters of the NAB.

The committee directed to rewrite the audit para in the light of the inquiry report submitted by the NAB.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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