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LAHORE: The National Radio & Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) has enquired its sole supplier for misdeclaring description and classification of imported aluminum sheets to evade duty and taxes worth Rs55.9 million.

Sidra Feroz, Project Manager License Plates of the Corporation, told Business Recorder on telephone that the Managing Director of the Corporation, who has returned from abroad, had held a meeting on Wednesday where the IT COMM (Pvt) Ltd, the sole supplier of the Corporation, was called to explain his position.

It may be noted that Excise, Taxation & Narcotics Control Department (ETND) Punjab had awarded a contract for the supply and provisioning of ISO7591 Certified license number plates to NRTC on 29th October 2020 on Government to Government (G2G) basis while excluding private parties. A letter of the department had further allowed NRTC to import directly or through a third party for ISO 7591 Certified number plates.

Sidra said Faisal Rao, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) IT COMM, was summoned in the meeting to know about the status of the shipment being seized by the Customs Karachi on account of duty and tax evasion. She said it has never been happened in the 45 years of the Corporation and the present incident has put its reputation at stake.

The top priority of the management is to ensure timely supply of number plates to the Excise department of the Punjab government, she said. “The management would ponder over further continuity with the supplier from next quarter onwards.”

When pointed out that Faisal Rao was a convict of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and he, along with other four top officials of Lahore Parking Company, had made a plea bargain of Rs80 million in a corruption case back in 2018, she said a complete security clearance was obtained besides invoking 25 steps to get registered with the procurement department of the Corporation.

Marketing Manager NRTC Amir Shah, when contacted, said the Corporation has nothing to do with tax evasion by the IT COMM as we have a contract of Free On Board (FOB) and a timely delivery of shipment. “NRTC has signed a contract for the shipment of material and it is responsible for any wrongdoing by the supplier,” he stressed.

He said the Corporation has authorized EHA Hoffman for the supply of imported aluminum sheets and rest of the story is in between them and IT COMM. However, he disconnected his cell phone when pointed out that a letter dated 12.10.2021 has mentioned that NRTC has placed purchase order to M/s IT COMM Pvt. Ltd dated 15th January 2021 for the supply and provisioning of ISO 7591 Certified license plates and it should be allowed to import directly or through third party. Repeated follow up calls stood unattended.

Similarly, Faisal Rao did not respond repeated calls made by this scribe to get his viewpoint. The excise department Punjab sources, requesting anonymity, said the department was facing a backlog of 2.5 million number plates and NRTC will provide against Rs1150 per piece. They said the Sindh Excise is also in the process of awarding a contract to the Corporation on G2G basis. The Punjab government has amended Rule 59 of PPRA Rules, removing the limit of procure a maximum of one million plates from one manufacturer.

Meanwhile, some independent circles have raised eyebrows over import of aluminum sheets for number plates of vehicles, saying that why precious foreign exchange is being spent on a petty job of manufacturing number plates. Also, they have pointed out that a G2G contract could be awarded only in case NRTC possesses in-house expertise of the same.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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