ISLAMABAD: The controversial project of BNP Group — One Constitution Avenue — is set to witness business activities on partial payment of its outstanding dues.
The project is likely to be de-sealed as the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has directed the owner to deposit the first installment in accordance with Supreme Court and Public Account Committee (PAC) directives for getting the lease of the plot restored.
According to Supreme Court’s last year ruling, the developer was supposed to pay Rs17.5 billion in six installments to the CDA. However, both the developer and the CDA filed review petitions in the apex court against the ruling.
Later, the PAC directed the CDA and the developer to resolve the issue.
Accordingly, the CDA recently issued a letter to the developer, asking him to deposit the first installment, out of the total 17.5bn, to get the project de-sealed.
“Following the directives of Supreme Court and the PAC, we have written a letter to the developer to deposit the first installment,” said CDA Member Estate Naveed Illahi.
CDA asks developer to deposit first installment of Rs17.5bn dues to get lease of plot restored
He said now it is up to the developer to deposit the amount to get the lease of plot restored.
The PAC at a meeting held on Oct 7 with Rana Tanveer Hussain in the chair had directed the developer to pay the outstanding amount in accordance with the Supreme Court directive. It also directed the CDA to resolve the issue.
In 2016, the CDA sealed and cancelled the lease of the plot meant for the Grand Hyatt Hotel because the developer had built and sold residential apartments instead.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) upheld the CDA decision but the Supreme Court restored the lease in January last year and directed the BNP Group to pay the CDA Rs17.5b over eight years.
According to minutes of the PAC meeting: “The chairman PAC pointed out that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had clarified that the pendency of proceedings before NAB did not bar CDA to act according to law. Moreover, no direction had been given by NAB to the CDA to stop its proceedings. The CDA was at liberty to proceed as per the direction of the Supreme Court.”
The minutes added: “Therefore, the committee reiterated that both the CDA and the developer should implement the judgment of the Supreme Court and may execute a letter of readjustment to give effect to the decision if reviewed subsequently by Supreme Court.”
When contacted, the developer, Hafeez Pasha, said: “The revival of the project is not only going to revive the confidence and interest of the investors in Pakistan but also will create a lot of economic activities. It is going to be the icon of the capital city.”
He said he was not avoiding paying the outstanding amount but had filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to reduce the price of the plot and/or to allow more time for the payment of installments.
“CDA has finally agreed to a schedule for the payment of revised amount of Rs17.5 billion to be paid over a period of six years. This payment schedule has been endorsed by PAC as well. Accordingly, we will make payment of the first installment as agreed while our review petition in Supreme Court is still pending. We will be able to hand over possession of the serviced apartments to the investors soon.”
The developer said the apartments will be managed and operated in accordance with the international standards as established by Association of Serviced Apartments Providers, adding the CDA will have no objection as it had relied on the definition of serviced apartments as defined by the association.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2020