LAHORE: The Punjab government is pushing ahead with the plan of privatising Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Limited, though the company is being investigated by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for alleged embezzlement of billions of rupees.
According to sources, the Punjab Privatisation Board, on the advice of provincial law department, last week asked interested parties in an email to submit earnest money along with application form, copies of Competition Commission and other approvals required by the bidders and other documents by April 9. This will be seven business days prior to the bidding date of April 19.
“The provincial law department works under the chief minister or chief secretary and is not capable of giving legal opinion which should be sought from a legal expert or adviser on privatisation issues,” said a source.
He said in the absence of clarity on the investigations, the privatisation process may yield much less money than the company’s actual market price, which would prove detrimental to the sell-off drive and undo all the good work done to improve energy mix and attract investors in solar energy generation.
Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Limited is a public-sector for-profit company established by the Punjab government as the first-ever utility-scale solar power plant in the country in 2013 which commenced commercial operation in 2015.
Private Power and Infrastructure Board approved the privatisation of 100-megawatt portion of the solar power company in July 2017 and initiated the bidding process.
However, the AGP found irregularities in the commencement and operation of the company and its various processes which were presented in an audit report for the period 2013-2017.
Moreover, NAB also wrote a letter to the company CEO on January 16, 2018 for the provision of information in order to conduct an inquiry into alleged embezzlement of billions of rupees in the award of various contracts.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2018.