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Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed Thursday revealed that Larkana-Multan package projects, worth Rs 40 billion, were illegally awarded to two persons who were among the accused of fake bank accounts scam.
Talking to media persons Saeed said that during the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) government, contracts worth Rs 124 billion for 120 road projects were awarded. Around 29 projects of Larkana-Multan package were given to two person including Niaz Mohammad Khan and Sardar Ashraf D Baloch illegally and the cases against them were currently under the investigation with Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB), who were also among the fake accounts holders, he added.
Saeed further said national exchequer suffered a loss Rs 50 billion due to misappropriation in Multan-Sukkur Motorway by the former rulers as according to the engineering estimate its cost was Rs 242 billion but was awarded to blue-eyed people at Rs 292 billion, besides tax concessions. He further said NAB had sought details of the inquiry and investigating National Highway Authority (NHA) in that case.
He said in a video message he had challenged PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal to go to the court for verification of allegation of corruption against him. Iqbal had claimed to send him a defamation notice but he had not sent any notice so far, the minister added. He said he would not let Iqbal to forget. He said he had raised some questions for Ahsan Iqbal but the PML-N leader failed to reply any question.
The minister said he questioned about the character of Javed Sadiq, adding how Ahsan Iqbal had signed a MoU of a project in 2013 whose bidding had to be carried out in 2015.
He said business plan of NHA, including leasing of NHA land for raising funds and regulations for access from NHA controlled network, had been approved and it would be announced in a press conference in a couple of days. He said NHA was expected to increase its revenue to Rs 50 billion.
The minister claimed revenue had been increased by Rs 10.79 billion so far. He said under leasing policy, 114 sites located in NHA's Right of Way (ROW) would be leased out while 15 more sites were also identified for leasing purpose.
He further said that special audit of five projects was carried out and recovery process in those projects would start soon. According to one of the findings in Lyari Expressway case, investigating committee had indicated recovery of Rs 800 million.
It was further revealed that during the previous governments' tenures, the Sahianwala Service Area on Motorway was leased out at Rs 1.7 million per annum but now it had been leased out at Rs 6.5 million per month. Hakla was leased out at Rs 7.4 million by previous governments, but now it had been re-leased at Rs 5 million per month.
Likewise rest area at Lahore-Abdul Hakeem motorway is also rented out during the present regime while rent of the Tandalianwala rest area was Rs 9.3 million per annum and now it is Rs 7.8 million per month. Such steps have resulted in increased revenue for NHA by Rs 1.38 billion.
He said transparency process of leasing out NHA's ROW for business purpose would help make the NHA self-sufficient. The minister said new ways and means were being explored to increase revenue level so that the organisation could meet its financial requirement through its own resources.
He said special audit of five NHA projects was done and reports had been completed. The projects include Lyari Expressway, Khuzdar-Shahdadkot Highway (M-8), Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab Highway (M-8), Lowari Tunnel (N-45) Civil Works, and Kalat-Quetta-Chaman Highway (N-25).
The minister said those five projects of NHA were inordinately delayed, causing price escalation and other adverse effects on the governance. He further said the incumbent government had approved western route and Prime Minister Imran Khan had inaugurated it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019