ISLAMABAD: Though a probe launched into a multi-billion quotations scam at the Capital Development Authority (CDA) still needs to be completed, the civic body has formed a new committee to verify the legality of the work done through quotations.

Last year, a committee was formed by the CDA to investigate the scam.

The inquiry report is still awaited even though it was claimed at the time that the probe was partially completed.

Under the quotation system, the civic agency is allowed to carry out emergency work, such as maintenance of street lights and water lines, without floating tenders.

Committee to verify bills pending in CDA Finance Wing

It, however, cannot exceed Rs500,000. CDA’s various wings while bulldozing all the rules and regulations got “development work carried out through quotation instead of the open bidding process”, allegedly causing loss to the exchequer.

According to an estimate, projects to the tune of Rs20 billion were executed through this scam; however, an exact amount will be determined by the inquiry committee.

This practice of bypassing rules continued for a number of years under the nose of the Federal Investigation Agency, the National Accountability Bureau, and the Auditor General of Pakistan. Furthermore, the CDA directorates involved in the quotation scammed ignored two letters by the then-chairman barring this practice.

Last year, the CDA formed an inquiry committee, which was tasked to conduct an audit of the Market and Road Maintenance Directorate, Machinery Pool Organisation, and the Environment Directorate of the civic agency for the current fiscal year.

It was said at the time that the inquiry would scrutinise projects executed over the previous fiscal years as well.

However, the probe into the current financial year is not completed either.

The CDA officials claimed that some officers, who were keen to do work through quotations, also carried out “some unnecessary work, including several walking tracks and some works along the nullahs” through the quotation system.

Meanwhile, the engineering wing of the CDA through a letter dated March 16 reconstituted the inquiry committee to “verify matured liabilities accumulated on account works executed in various formations”.

Pending payments

The letter said that representatives of the contractor association had a meeting with the chairman on March 1 also attended by the member engineering.

The representatives apprised that many payments were pending against the work executed by various contractors in different formations of the CDA.

“However, the FA member [of] CDA informed that a committee has already been constituted with the approval of [the] CDA chairman for verification of bills pending in the Finance Wing,” the letter said.

It added that the representatives of the association contended that the committee was verifying the works bills for which were pending in the Finance Wing, but there were other projects which were not even processed for payment.

“Since the already constituted committee is working under the chairmanship of Faisal Raza Khan, therefore to avoid duplication he may be nominated as a member of the new committee,” the letter said and added that DG Works Habibullah Sheikh will be chairman of the new committee with Mr Faisal and Khurram Shahzad as its members.

This committee will segregate the quotations opened but not paid due to no allocation of funds on the works executed, but not verified by the executing staff.

The body will verify matured liabilities which will be presented before the CDA board, said the letter.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023

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