LAHORE: The City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) awarded a contract for the transportation of subsidised atta (wheat flour), for the Sasti Rori Scheme, in violation of provincial government’s guidelines.
According to a document available with The Express Tribune, the district coordination officer (DCO) Sajjad Ahmad Bhutta, awarded the contract at Rs17 per bag. The approved government rate per bag is Rs5.
When DCO requested the chief secretary, Nasir Mehmood Khosa – to provide Rs6.614 million for the payment of outstanding dues to the firm for transporting flour from August 2009 to February 2010 – he sought comments from the Industries Department. The department told Khosa that no such cost had been approved in the meeting of the Sasti Roti Authority convened on June 3, 2009.
The department said it could not support the DCO’s claim.
The city government adopted new guidelines last year, under which flour bags are directly delivered to registered tandoors.
Previously tandoor owners had to collect the flour from designated pickup points and paid the cost of the transportation.
The agreement was signed in violation of the guidelines, issued by the Food Department, regarding fixation of the logistics cost.
The guideline reads: “Districts are to outsource transportation of atta, in accordance with the prescribed procedure but the cost, per 20 kilogram bag, is not to exceed Rs5. The transportation cost will be placed at the disposal of DCOs.”
After the discrepancies pointed out by the Food and Industries Departments, the Finance Department refused to release the requested Rs6.614 million.
The department noted that the payment request was contravened the notified arrangement for the scheme.
A Food Department official, speaking anonymously, told The Express Tribune that the contract was awarded as a favour. He said that DCO was still trying to persuade the chief secretary to approve the payment.
The DCO remained unavailable for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2010.