ISLAMABAD: The government has finally revived agreement with a Chinese company for procurement and installation of modern surveillance equipment for multi-billion rupees “Islamabad Safe City Project” that had been scrapped by the Supreme Court in August 2012.

Speaking at a press conference here on Friday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced approval of the project.

“We could have procured the equipment at comparatively cheaper rates, but there was no other option available,” he remarked.

He indicated that efforts would be made to bring down the cost of the project, saying “we are in the process of re-negotiating”.

He expressed his desire to see the project completed in next one year. “It is an important project because it will protect urban centres,” he remarked.

Rejecting the criticism of the project in the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Nisar said why were they silent when the project had been conceived in 2008.

The project involving installation of 1500 security cameras in the capital was directly awarded to Huawei Technology by the then prime minister after waiving the tendering process.

Technical proposal for the project was approved by the Planning Commission under Dr Samar Mubarakmand.

The framework agreement for a soft term loan was signed between the governments of Pakistan and China in December 2010.

The Supreme Court in its order had declared contract between the government of Pakistan and Huawei Technologies as invalid, but allowed the project to continue.

It ruled that the procurement agency may reinitiate the process of procurement in a transparent manner in accordance with Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Ordinance, 2002 and rules 2004.

The Supreme Court in its judgment said ‘the entire exercise appears to be farcical’.

Sources told Dawn that very next month after the Supreme Court's verdict, China linked loan for the project with the award of the contract to the Chinese firm, Huawei Technology.

The Exim Bank had also tied funds with award of contract to the Chinese firm.

Though the interior minister suspects that something is wrong about the deal and expressed his determination to catch the thieves, a senior official of the ministry had recently informed a Senate body that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had found no evidence of corruption or misuse of authority in the deal.

He said in view of the Chinese position, ECC being the competent forum had accorded approval under Rule b5 of PPRA Rules 2004, granting exemption from tendering in favour of Huawei Technology.

The Cabinet had ratified the decision subject to conditions that no price escalation would be allowed.

He said after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to China, his adviser Tariq Fatimi had proposed formation of a high powered committee to examine all relevant aspects of the project, and if the committee finds anything fishy, a fresh enquiry be conducted by NAB.

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