Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GB govt fails to check financial embezzlement

ISLAMABAD: The Gilgit Baltistan government has failed to keep a check on the misappropriations and financial embezzlements in its different departments as it has been revealed that the Baltistan Water and Power Division has caused a loss of Rs 43.56 million to the national exchequer because of non-transparency in execution of its various ongoing projects.

The Water and Power Division’s former executive engineer, Ghanche Saeed Akhtar Shah, accepted the tender for work on a project for supply and fixing of penstock pipe for Rs 71.1 million against the sanctioned Rs 34.98 million, which was 103 percent higher than the approved cost.

A national daily newspaper, with reference to documents revealed that the estimate of procurement and fixing of penstock pipe provided in PC-1 was Rs 34.98 million, which was approved in August 2006, however, new tenders were invited in February 2008 after 18 months from the date of administrative approval and ultimately non-adherence to provision of rules caused irregular acceptance of the tender for Rs 71.1 million.

The Water and Power Division sitting executive engineer claimed that the estimate was prepared/approved during August 2006, while the work was put to tender in February 2008 due to non-funding against the scheme.

An officer from the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) said that the department had admitted that the tenders had been invited 18 months after the grant of administrative approval, which caused higher tender prices. The chief engineer accepted the tender at a price which was 103 percent higher than the approved price, which was a clear manifestation of misuse of power.

He further added that this particular matter was reported to the principle accounting officer (PAO) of the provincial Ministry of Water and Power in December 2009, however, neither any reply had been received nor was a Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) meeting ever convened to look into the issue.

In another scandal, Shah invited tenders for electrical and mechanical work in June 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs 14.051 million and accepted the bid for Rs 17.687 million to facilitate his favourites, which was 25.87 percent above the technically sanctioned cost.

The audit official was of the view that this was beyond the permissible limit of acceptance of tender with 10 percent over the administration approval and 5 percent over the technical sanctioned estimate, while non-adherence to provision of rules resulted in irregular acceptance of contract amounting to Rs. 17.7 million.

Audit categorically denied the claim of the department concerned that the reason of an increase in the approved bid cost was the increase in prices of petroleum products from $37 to $149 and thus the cost of steel structures, labour charges, cement and carriage charges increased manifolds.

The audit official further added that the claim of the alleged party was contrary to the facts as petroleum prices had sharply decreased from $149 to $50.

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