The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday declared that properties purchased by the Employees’ Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) were bought in a non-transparent manner, causing huge losses to the state-owned institution, The Express Tribune has learnt.
According to a report that the FIA’s Punjab chapter will submit before the apex court on July 16, the sellers of six properties have voluntarily agreed to return the money, amounting to Rs7.087 billion, back to EOBI, and have submitted their offers on stamp papers in this regard.
These properties were purchased on highly exorbitant rates as compared to the market value, without following proper rules and procedures. Documents available with The Express Tribune reveal that owners of some of the properties had not even participated in the bidding process in response to the advertisement, but their properties were purchased by EOBI.
According to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules, all procuring agencies both within and outside Pakistan, are required to post tenders of over Rs50 million on PPRA’s website. However, the advertisements were in violation of rule 7 of Public Procurement Regulations 2008, because no tenders were posted on the PPRA or the EOBI’s website.
According to paragraph 6 (G) EOBI (Board of Trustees) Rules 1977, the Board of Trustees shall have the power to order investment and disinvestment in real estate, where the investment exceeds Rs0.5 million. In the 86th meeting of the Board of Trustees, it was decided that in light of previous practices, and decisions of the committee dated October 2, 2009, the institution should continue with the same practice to avoid purchasing land from private parties.
The report reveals that eleven independent inquiries were registered in FIA Punjab against all eleven property deals, due to the non-transparent nature of their transactions.
All of these properties were evaluated by a private firm named M/s Dimen Associates (Pvt) Ltd, Lahore, which is against EOBI rules, as paragraph 15.2.2 of the Operating Manual of EOBI states: “Before purchase, valuation of land/building shall be carried through government controlled consultancies, ie, PEPAC, NESPAK, REMCO, etc.”
A letter has been issued to the director general of FIA to take the secretary concerned on-board for evaluation of all the properties by a reputable government owned firm.
Furthermore, in order to examine the records obtained, letters have been sent to director general Lahore Development Authority, District Coordination Officer Lahore, Executive Officer Cantonment Board Lahore and the provincial chief of the National Bank of Pakistan for technical assistance. The report states that after examining the records, the role of members of investment committee and members of the board of trustees would be examined in light of the records obtained.
Many discrepancies have been pointed out in the evaluation report submitted by Dimen Associates (Pvt) Ltd.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2013.