Four-member committee to investigate park scam

Published: November 22, 2019
The Greater Iqbal Park project design. PHOTO: FILE

The Greater Iqbal Park project design. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Director General Muhammad Gohar Nafees has formed a four-member committee to investigate the Greater Iqbal Park project scam.

The committee will be headed by ACE Deputy Director Haider Abbas Watoo. Other members include Technical Director Qasim Naqvi, Assistant Investigations Director Nazia Sindhu and Inspector Headquarters Naimatul Hassan.

An officer privy to the development shared with The Express Tribune that the immediate loss to the national exchequer, which were revealed during the inquiry stage, is expected to increase as “remaining bill of quantities (BOQ) and non-BOQ items have not yet been examined”.

A large number of items had been purchased from the international market, violating the recommendations put forth by NESPAK. The investigators have been directed to cross check the prices of the items in the international market. In this regard, the department has already forwarded written requests. More requests for information are also on the cards.

The project also violated Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules. The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) chief engineer had reportedly sanctioned the project at a cost of Rs908.8 million. However, the project was approved at a cost of approximately Rs1.19 billion.

The contract was awarded to Habib Construction for Rs915 million, around 8.66% more than the technically sanctioned estimate. It was also discovered that the officials approved bids at higher rates by using a cushion of mega project allowance at 4.17%.

Additionally, the enhanced scope was awarded to the same contractor without a tendering process. The revision included 186 non-BOQ items at an estimated cost of Rs1.92 billion. Non-BOQ items, having a financial impact of Rs1.5 billion without the approval of a revised PC-1, were not an integral part of the project.

The inquiry committee had already prepared two reports with statements from technical experts as well as other officers concerned. The newly established team will look into the project from all angles, from ignoring NESPAK’s recommendations to cross checking the prices of the items in the international market.

Earlier, ACE had registered a case against the former Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) director, Greater Iqbal Park project director, PHA director engineering, PHA deputy director engineering and Habib Construction Company chief executive director on corruption charges.

According to the inquiry conducted by a joint inquiry team, a loss of approximately Rs381.8 million had been caused to the national exchequer in the Greater Iqbal Park project. The corruption involved favouring ‘blue-eyed’ firms by violating PPRA rules and buying items at exorbitant rates.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2019.

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