PM House expansion to cost a packet

Published: December 24, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The government approved an increase in the cost of the Prime Minister House expansion project on Friday, raising it by a whopping 162%, disregarding objections raised by the Planning Ministry over non-submission of proofs of increase in expenditures.

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) approved the project’s revised cost of Rs298.2 million. In June last year, the CDWP had approved the project at rationalized cost of Rs113.9 million.

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The Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal ignored the objections of his own ministry and sanctioned the scheme in his capacity as the CDWP Chairman. The project was initiated to build a conference room and additional rooms at the PM House. PM spends most of his time here, discharging his duties.

“The project’s PC-I is ill-prepared and its cost may further escalate. Furthermore, it cannot be scrutinized technically because of non-submission of relevant supporting documents,” pleaded the Planning Ministry in vain.

Details of the project show the rulers’ carelessness in spending the taxpayers’ money.

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The Prime Minister opted to have a western lift installed here and rejected the originally-approved ‘Made in China’ elevator. Because of this change, the cost of the VVIP lift was increased by 27.5% to Rs10.2 million, documents showed.

The Planning Ministry could not technically verify the claims of cost increase, as the executing agency did not submit supporting documents along with the revised PC-I.

The government enhanced the scope of the work without seeking prior approval of the CDWP, in complete disregard of the established rules and procedures. It decided to construct a separate gate for the PM’s family at a cost of Rs5 million. This was not part of the original plan.

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It also included installation of a new CCTV system, a diesel generating system. The chiller was replaced with a package of air conditioners without seeking mandatory prior approval of the CDWP.

For the current fiscal year, only Rs47.8 million was allocated for this project. But, the CDWP approved the project despite the fact the sponsors did not provide details for arranging additional Rs232.2 million needed for completing the project. In all likelihood, either the Ministry of Finance would provide supplementary budget or the Planning Ministry would divert funds of other projects.

The furniture and fixtures were bought at rates 383% higher than approved in the original PC-I. An expenditure of Rs5 million was incurred without explaining rationale. It was just showed in the revised document as a lump sum.

At a cost of Rs63.9 million, the package type air conditioners were installed by replacing the traditional chillers aimed at controlling noise. The actual physical and financial progress on the project was not shared with the Planning Ministry and the CDWP still went ahead to approve the revised project at higher than original cost, the documents showed.

The cost was escalated despite no increase in the covered area (8,212 square foot). Because of the upward revision in cost, the construction cost almost tripled from Rs13,865 to Rs36,313 per square foot.

According to the technical appraisal, drawings, quantity sheets and rate analysis were not provided.

“The revised PC-I is also silent (about the) original PC-I regarding the number of persons to be accommodated in the conference room and six offices,” according to the Planning Ministry observations.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2016.


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