Are PMLN leaders taking sharing from large-scale corruption in KPK?

Are PMLN leaders taking sharing from large-scale corruption in KPK?

Peshawar, Pakistan: Pakistan has been facing a severe economic crisis and now the government of Pakistan has to take foreign or domestic loans to pay salaries to its employees and to meet administrative expenditures. However, its federating units are richer than the Federation if someone talks about the extravaganzas of the provinces.

There are claims that such extravaganzas are being enjoyed by politicians and bureaucrats across the board and not only PTI is enjoying the kickbacks but also sharing the opportunities with its opponent—PMLN politicians

The deep-rooted corruption in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province is becoming a serious concern for the Federation that provides financial resources to provinces through the Divisible Pool under constitutional requirements. The National Finance Commission (NFC) Award was one of the main sources of provincial earnings but the 18th Amendment provided the right to get foreign loans to provinces and now the situation is playing havoc with the financial health of the provinces. One can imagine that the Federation is cutting its expenses even through cutting Defence budget but provinces are spending money lavishly and they even spent Rs.150 million on promotional advertisements in one week like Punjab recently did on the advertisement campaign of Atta (flour) distribution among needy people. However, KPK is taking the lead in recklessly spending money and taking more loans from domestic as well as foreign lenders. A recent case of KPK emerged as it has taken another loan of Rs2 billion 74 crore from the World Bank in the name of promoting tourism. There are claims that such extravaganzas are being enjoyed by politicians and bureaucrats across the board and on both sides of the political divide. Sources in the KPK provincial Secretariat claim that not only PTI is enjoying the financial kickbacks but also sharing the opportunities with its opponent—PMLN politicians.

   

In the project of the Department of Tourism, Communication and &Works 2 billion 74 crores have been injected without any administrative approval and the project that was approved as Rs.6 billion project has been illegally awarded a contract in 8 billion 74 crores and this contractor is no one else than son of a PMLN politician.

According to available details, the project director made a revised 10 billion Performa Commission I (PC-I) within three months to legalize corruption, which was returned twice with objections by the Principal Accounting Officer but surprisingly, the technical wing infrastructural section in the Planning and Development (P&D) Department found irregularities and despite the flaws, the full clearance certificate was issued.

According to the documents, a loan of 100 million USD was taken from the World Bank in 2019 to create integrated tourism zones due to the rush at some specific tourist spots in the province. At that time, the value of the USD dollar was 140 rupees, which is calculated to be 14 billion rupees. After feasibility, master plan, and construction of roads, the project was to be run through Public Private Partnership (PPP). Two project management units have been created for the project, including one in the C&W department, whose work is to look after roads and other construction works. Under this project the construction of 47 km road (estimated cost Rs.3 billion 48 crores) 23 km road in Mankyal (estimated cost Rs. 2 billion 58 crore 45 lakh)) and for the construction of a 24 km road in Thandiani was approved in January 2021, but in September 2022, the tender was awarded for 8 billion 74 crore 90 lakh rupees. Around Rs. 5 billion 75 crores 52 lakhs to Mankyal while 2 billion 99 crore 41 lakhs contract was awarded to Thandiani Road, which is Rs. 2 billion 74 crores 93 lakh rupees more than the original PC I.

According to the law, the project can be awarded at a 15% increase over the cost of PC I, but the above tender was awarded at a 45% increase. In order to hide the irregularities, a revised PC-I amounting to 10 billion was sent it to the Planning and Development Department, but the Planning and Development Department returned the PC-I with more than a hundred objections. Meanwhile, PMU responded to the objections on the one hand and on the other hand prepared a PC-1 worth 17 billion rupees, on which the Chief Engineer of Foreign Aid Projects of the C&W Department asked the PMU to immediately stop work on the unapproved part.

While ordering the closure, it was subject to the approval of additional funds from the World Bank and additional work from the relevant department. Secretary Tourism also raised objections to the project under which law an additional contract of Rs.2 billion 74 crores has been given which has not been approved and why the contract has been given without technical permission. If the loan has been taken for the said project, from where will it be returned, PMU contacted the World Bank about this, then the World Bank took a stand that the project is up to June 2025, no more money can be given. It is pertinent to mention that the department sent the revised PC-1 to the P&D department in April 2024 which was returned to the department with 45 objections by the pre-PDWP.

The company that has been awarded the contract is MS Itemad Builders and the Company is registered in the name of Niaz Ahmed, son of PMLN leader Ameer Maqam and a woman. P&D has also called for the records of all the contractors. Some of the objections include that the project was approved in December 2020 but why the tender was done in April 2022, why was PC-I  revised according to the rate given by the contractor, Rs.5 crore 57 lakh has been approved for consultancy but why it was increased by 170% to Rs.15 crore?.

The Technical Wing Infrastructural Section in the Planning and Development Department, whose job is to check the engineering estimates and PC-I, has issued a complete clearance certificate despite technical flaws and irregularities. When contacted in this regard, Project Director Muhammad Zahid said that after going through various stages, the cost of PC-I has increased, while it is necessary to revise PC-I according to the contractor’s rate based on the World Bank conditions.

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