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ISLAMABAD: Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) is making all-out efforts to award four fast-track development projects to the Punjab Government instead of Pak PWD, a federal entity meant to undertake such projects, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

M/o NHSR&C, are currently executing a large number of health sector Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) projects, involving infrastructure development, civil, electrical and mechanical works.

Under entry 14(11) schedule II of Rules of Business, 1973, Pak PWD is the only government agency which is authorized to undertake all the construction projects of the federal government. The construction projects of the health sector are highly sensitive, technical and need special expertise, which Pak PWD ostensibly lacks. This causes delay in the implementation of projects which results into time and cost overruns.

Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination intends to undertake some health infrastructure projects through a specialized executing agency such as Infrastructure Development Authority of Punjab (IDAP).

The M/s NHSR&C claims that the IDAP has a very impressive track record of execution and completion of projects on turnkey basis. The Prime Minister in a meeting held on October 21, 2020, approved the construction of federal hospitals by IDAP as per law. Accordingly, the M/s NHSR&C took up the case with M/o Housing and Works regarding availing services of IDAP and M/o Housing and Works on December 15, 2020 responded that under the Rules of Business, 1973, Pak PWD is the only government agency to undertake all the construction projects of the Federal government. They have further advised to take up the matter with Prime Minister’s Office.

According to M/o NHSR&C, Article 146(1) of the Constitution states that “notwithstanding anything contained in the constitution, the Federal Government may, with the consent of the Government of a Province, entrust either conditionally or unconditionally to that Government, or to its officers functions in relation to any matter to which the executive authority of the Federation extends”. Accordingly, M/s NHSR&C in a letter to the Secretary, NHSR&C sought consent of Government of Punjab for execution of some development projects on fast track basis through IDAP.

The IDAP was informed of the decision of the Punjab Cabinet in its 41st meeting held on February 15, 2021: “Cabinet considered and approved the undertaking of projects by IDAP for the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, along with directions to clearly highlight that infrastructure development work had been executed through the Government of the Punjab. On a summary moved by this Ministry on February 24, 2021 Prime Minister’s Office in its reply dated April 16, 2021, desired that the Ministry shall place the proposal of the summary, duly incorporating the views of Ministries of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives (PD&SI) and Housing & Works in the Summary for the Cabinet, for orders of the federal Cabinet in terms of Article 146(1) of the Constitution.”

In pursuance of the directions of the Prime Minister’s office, the comments of M/o PD&SI and Ministry of Housing & Works have been incorporated in the summary for the Cabinet. The M/o PD&SI has endorsed the proposal of the summary for one-time relaxation by the Prime Minister in terms of Rule 57 of Rules of Business 1973. However, the Ministry of Housing & Works has stated that “in terms of entry 14(11) schedule-II of Rules of Business, 1973, Pak PWD is the only Government agency to undertake all the construction projects of the Federal Government. The same position has been reiterated by the Prime Minister’s Office in various cases”.

After explaining the background, M/s NHSR&C has proposed that it may be allowed a one-time special exemption to undertake four health infrastructure development projects till their completion on a turnkey basis through IDAP instead of Pak PWD. The IDAP will follow Federal PPRA Rules, 2004 in execution of the projects assigned by the M/o NHSR&C.

The sources said the Cabinet is expected to approve the proposal of M/s NHSR&C as it has already obtained consent of PM Office.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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