‘Shady’ contract to Chinese firm: Senate panel accuses World Bank office of ‘conniving’ with NTDC
ISLAMABAD: Raising serious questions over the award of contract of 765kV Dasu–Mansehra–Islamabad transmission line contract to a Chinese company, the Senate Standing Committee Wednesday accused the local office of the World Bank of conniving with the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) in this ‘scam’.
Presided over by Senator Saifullah Abro, the Committee expressed displeasure during the briefing by NTDC official and sought copies of bidding documents, financial and technical criteria for $ 300 million project to be completed in one go or three phases.
Chairman Standing Committee argued that the award of the contract to M/s Sinohydro Corporation Limited China was non-transparent, accusing that local office of World Bank of conniving with NTDC to award contract to Chinese firm adding that Pakistan has to sink - either today or tomorrow.
765kV DC transmission lines: FD asks PD to take action on award of contract
The Committee sought document of financial bids and award of contract to Chinese firm but NTDC officials refused to share the document, saying it is not available as World Bank has barred NTDC from sharing it with anyone.
The NTDC officials further stated that in case such “confidential” documents are made available at the forum World Bank will cancel the loan. However, Chairman Standing Committee refused to accept clarification of NTDC official, saying that the Committee would get the documents as it is not bothered whether the loan is cancelled by the World Bank.
The Committee decided to hold a special meeting on NTDC to discuss its entire affairs/activities in detail.
The Committee also decided to refer the case of Board members of entities of Power Division to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau as Power Division did not comply with the instructions of the Standing Committee.
Additional Secretary Power Division, Arshad Majeed Mohmand informed the Committee that Board are being made more independent in light of the newly approved law about State Owned Entities (SOEs), applicable from last month.
During the meeting CEO, QESCO informed that recovery from agriculture tube-wells in Balochistanis negligible as neither provincial government nor farmers are paying their bills; and farmers have been extended illegal tube-well connections. CEO QESCO further revealed that the company’s circular debt is Rs 550 billion as bill recovery is not more than 30 per cent. He said, Rs 5 billion is added to the circular debt every month.
Senator Prince Ahmed UmerAhmedzai who raised the issue of agritubewell connections, revealed that farmers have established illegal tubewells to meet their water requirements. He said, Iranian oil products are being smuggled to Punjab, suggesting if a tax is imposed on smuggled oil products, at least some revenue can be generated.
The meeting was informed that a Joint Committee has been established to recommend criteria to solarize agri-tubewells in Balochistan.
Chief Executive Officer, KE, Syed Moonis Abdullah Alvi said that KE’s recovery from agritubewell is 15 per cent which is not feasible, indicating that it would disconnect tubewells as Local Administration is not cooperating.
Joint Secretary (Power Finance) Power Division, refused to share IMF’s demands with respect to recovery from KE, saying that Finance Ministry can respond to this question.
The issue of power breakdown in January 2023 also came under discussion. The Committee was annoyed at the Power Minister for not establishing an internal committee to probe the reasons for the fault.
Additional Secretary Power Division stated that a meeting of the internal committee constituted on the directions of Federal Cabinet will hold its first meeting on March 27, 2023. National Power Control Centre (NPCC), the System Operator is the key accused in the breakdown which will take action against its employees. However General Manager, NPCC stated that he has not received Inquiry Committee Report as yet.
Briefing about CASA-1000, officials of Power Division informed that work on the project has stopped after the change of regime in Afghanistan as World Bank has also stopped funding to the project.
The Committee was further apprised that Tajikistan; Pakistan will complete their part of work on the project. It was stated that Pakistan will not have to pay any penalty if it completes its work by December 2023.
The Power Division official maintained that if the World Bank decides to release funding, it will take two years to complete the project.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023