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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives has been tasked to see how stalled construction on various housing projects of the government due to escalation in cost would be resumed by giving one-time relief to the private contractors through an SRO.

The Secretary Ministry of Housing and Works, Dr Imran Zeb Khan, informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), on Thursday that the construction industry across the country witnessed a 100 percent escalation in construction material cost, which also resulted in halting of government housing projects for the last five months.

Chairman PAC Rana Tanveer Hussain chaired the meeting of the PAC. The committee was briefed on the present status regarding ongoing housing projects in Sector G-13, Islamabad.

The secretary said that contractors stopped work on housing projects of the government due to extraordinary raise in the prices of building materials including steel, cement etc since August 2021.

Private Contractors Association and the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) had written letter to the prime minister for intervention. On the directive of the prime minister, the secretary maintained that the task was given to the Ministry of Planning to look into giving one-time relief to the contractors through SRO.

The PAC chairman rejected the arguments of the secretary housing and said that they should implement escalation clauses of the agreements with the contractors. He further argued that if they would not agree to continue work on the agreed cost than they should black list the contractors.

Responding to the chairman, the secretary said that they already terminated some contracts and the matter at present was under deliberation of the Ministry of Planning.

He sought the auditor general of Pakistan’s opinion. The auditor general said that the government should revise PC-I of the projects instead of issuing an SRO.

The committee also directed the chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA), the secretary Foreign Office, and the secretary National Assembly to appear before the committee in the next meeting to answer the serious reservation raised by members committee over substandard and low quality work in parliament building ahead of the OIC meeting.

Khawaja Asif drew attention of the committee that Rs 70 million was allocated to replace heritage and expensive wood used in the Parliament House by low quality chipboard and floor tiles.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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