As clear as mud

Pakistan News 0 Comment 9

The claim of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that since taking office it has followed transparent procedures regarding the award of contracts for development projects has fallen apart under the scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Indeed far from acting in a transparent manner the government drove a coach and horses through the required procedures and bent the rules to suit itself.

It was the contracts for the technical studies for two LNG-fired power stations that caught the eye of the PAC. Purely coincidentally they are situated in Punjab and are being set up at the cost of Rs369.3 billion — a not insignificant sum. In order to bypass the bidding process the government declared ‘an emergency’ and that both the projects were ‘in the national interest.’ One might be led to wonder if any other power projects in provinces other than Punjab have similarly been declared ‘emergencies’. The attorney general for Pakistan has now sought the directive of the Public Accounts Committee in an effort to identify those responsible for this creative piece of crooked governance. There is a set of rules to cover the awarding of government contracts and they are designed to be transparent, allowing accountability all along the line.

The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) is there to ensure competitive bidding — or not. The PAC was dismissive of the defence of ‘an emergency’ saying that perhaps all power projects should be declared as such and exempt. Digging deeper the PAC smelled a rat in the missing names of the vendors from the PAC brief which had been submitted by the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak), commenting that perhaps these were ‘paper companies’ and there in name only adding fraud to the list of irregularities at the door of the government. All of this makes a complete mockery of the procurement process, opens the door to allegations of corruption and muddies the water for those whose job it is to validate public accounts. The PML-N is exposed as no different from the other snollygosters that slink through the corridors of power, its claims of transparency a mere mirage.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2017.

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The post As clear as mud appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Source: Tribune News | As clear as mud

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