LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday suspended Punjab Saaf Pani Company (PSPC) CEO Waseem Ajmal and Chief of Contracts and Procurement Shabnam, while terminating the services of General Manager Project Services Col (retd) Tahir Maqbool.
He believed that these officials had been negligent in their duties of rolling out the chief minister’s much-touted clean water project.
“Those who cannot deliver have no right to stay in their jobs and get six digit salaries. Perks and privileges have to be matched by action,” he said on his Twitter account. In another tweet, the chief minister said there was no room for inefficiency, negligence and delays in a public welfare project of this significance. Therefore, he had to “send the top management home”.
An official communiqué, made available to The Express Tribune, shows that Shehbaz also formed a committee with the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team chairman as convener. The committee includes Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power CEO Ahad Khan Cheema and Punjab Additional Advocate General Barrister Khalid Waheed.
It will examine the methods through which the proposals for phase-1 engineering procurement construction (EPC) contracts were formulated. The committee will also look into the extent of due diligence exercised by the company’s management and board when approving the requests.
The body will look into the mode of payment to bidders for various components and compare them with the standard EPC contract payment methodology in ongoing international competitive bidding (ICB) contracts of the Punjab government and government of Pakistan. It will particularly look into whether the conditions fixed by PSPC were an improvement on current practices or otherwise.
The communiqué states the committee will check how deftly the clause of 20% deferred payment on capital expenditure (CAPEX) was included in the RFP which might have allayed fears of the bidders that their payment would be guaranteed upon successful completion of the project. It will examine the depth of the PSPC board’s engagement in the decision-making process so that any conclusion may be attributed as members’ collective wisdom.
The committee is also tasked to fix responsibility on PSPC management officials who deviated from standard EPC contract practices which either resulted in delays or cost escalation.
The government has nominated the Punjab Education Endowment Fund CEO, Dr Kamran Shams, as acting head of the company. The company has also advertised for a new CEO after removing Ajmal’s name from the website.
A company official disclosed that the CM had told the PSPC management to install water filtration plants in 7,500 villages in 10 district of Punjab by December 17. However, the company failed in its mission and wasted around nine months.
He said the company, after making hefty payments to consultants, prepared a feasibility study, which estimated the total cost to be around Rs120 billion. However, in the ICB process, the company got the lowest bid of Rs210 billion — almost double the initial estimates.
Like other development projects in Punjab, the chief minister had aligned the Saaf Pani timeline with the 2018 general elections. All these projects were to be completed by April 2018. However, the company failed to come up to the CM’s expectations and the delayed execution was likely to increase costs, company officials believed.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2016.