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    Monday, 19 February 2018

    NAB to probe ‘corruption’ in award of Rs148bn motorway project contract, Metro Multan

    The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to summon the former chairman of National High Authority (NHA), Shahid Ashraf Tarar, and contractors of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway Abdul Hakeem section to investigate alleged corruption of Rs24 billion in the award of contract for Rs148 billion for building motorway in August 2015, according to sources.An inquiry was also initiated into the misappropriation of millions of rupees in Multan Metro bus project and recorded the statements of different officers concerning to this project.
    NAB also started probe into the unlawful appointments in National Bank of Pakistan and Khadim-e-Aala Punjab Rural Roads Programme(KAPRR)phase-4.
    “The bureau will summon the former chairman of NHA, who is now representing Pakistan as the executive director of the World Bank for next three years,” a senior official of NAB told South Punjab News on Sunday.
    He said that NAB had started inquiry into alleged irregularities in the project which will be linked with China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), M-4 (Pindi Bhattian-Gojra-Shorkot-Khanewal and Multan Motorway sections).
    The official said that the inquiry against officers concerned of the NHA had been started on the basis of a complaint of the Transparency International (TI) and some evidence collected by NAB during a Complaint Verification (CV) process.
    “We started inquiry into the Karachi-Lahore section of Motorway project after we found some evidences during the CV process,” the official claimed.
    The official said that the inquiry had been ordered against the NHA management for their alleged corruption in awarding the contract in violation of laid-down laws/rules on exorbitant rates and causing alleged loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer.
    Interestingly, the Transparency International (TI) had lodged the complaint of alleged corruption in the project two years ago, but the former chairman of NAB, Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, who was reportedly quite close to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, did not take any action, but incumbent NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal had taken a serious notice of the issue and ordered an inquiry into the matter.
    “If some credible evidences are found during the investigation, it will be a fit case for filing another reference against the present government,” the official said.
    According to details, the NHA awarded Rs148 billion contract of 230-kilometre Karachi-Lahore Abdul Hakeem section of Motorway in August 2015, ignoring shortcomings in the successful bid.
    When contacted, a NAB spokesman said that the bureau’s chairman had ordered an inquiry into the matter.
    In reply to a question about summoning of the former NHA chairman and contractors, the spokesman said: “NAB does not believe in victimisation of anybody and merit will prevail in the case.” He said the NAB chairman had ordered the director-general of the bureau, Rawalpindi, to investigate allegations of corruption in the award of the contract.
    “NAB will ensure that the public money is not wasted or misused and the people responsible for awarding the contract of Karachi-Lahore section of the Motorway on higher rates in violation of rules and regulations, are exposed and brought to justice.
    Interestingly, the Frontier Works’ Organisation (FWO) was not allowed to participate in the bidding process by the NHA management on the ground that it (the FWO) was already engaged in several other massive projects and thus overstretched and overburdened though it submitted the lowest bid of Rs134 billion (Rs14 billion less than the accepted bid of Rs148 billion).
    Some of the bidders have lodged complaints with the NHA that the successful bidder had reduced quantities and work materials amounting to Rs10 billion without reducing the cost of the project and that will cause extra burden of Rs10 billion to the national exchequer.
    Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad appeared before National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore on Friday and recorded his statement in a corruption probe. 
    Fawad had been earlier summoned by the bureau on Thursday (yesterday) for his alleged role in illegally awarding the contract for the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme of the provincial government but he failed to appear.
    A three-member NAB team questioned the senior bureaucrat at its Lahore office, after which it gave him a questionnaire and asked him to appear again on Monday. 
    According to NAB, the contract for the project was won by a construction company titled Chaudhry Latif and Sons.
    However, the anti-graft body stated, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his aides awarded it instead to Lahore Casa Developers – a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by Railways Minister Saad Rafique.
    Fawad, who was a senior bureaucrat in the Punjab government at the time, levelled charges of wrongdoings against Chaudhry Latif and Sons in order for the contract to be awarded to Casa Developers.
    On January 22, Shehbaz recorded his statement at NAB in the inquiry related to the housing scheme. 
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    Item Reviewed: NAB to probe ‘corruption’ in award of Rs148bn motorway project contract, Metro Multan Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Asqamar