SC seeks details of $233.7m ‘Safe City Project’ | Pakistan Today

SC seeks details of $233.7m ‘Safe City Project’

ISLAMABAD – Heading a two-member Supreme Court bench, which is hearing a petition challenging a $233.7 million security venture signed with a Chinese firm to keep the cities of Islamabad and Peshawar secure, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Friday observed that the agreements with foreign companies should be transparent and there would be no compromise on transparency.
The court directed the Planning Commission to produce details of the agreement within three weeks. The bench, also comprising Justice Ghulam Rabbani, while hearing a petition moved by Shahid Orakzai against non-transparency of the Safe City Project of Islamabad and Peshawar, was informed that the project for Peshawar had been abandoned. Appearing on notice, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, advocate general Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Afnan Karim Kundi, counsel for the Interior Ministry, told the court that neither the prices had so far been determined nor the equipments were purchased.
They said China was lending money for the project and the agreement with the Chinese firm was a prerequisite condition to get the loan, adding that the loan could not be obtained without the contract. “If you have signed the agreement, you would have to act upon it”, the chief justice remarked, adding that purchasing an item having Rs 5 value on Rs 20 was not an achievement.
Planning Commission’s deputy chairman told the court that Safe City Project was at the stages of final approval. The Chief Justice said the cities should be made safe; however, no compromise could be made on transparency of the project. The court directed the Planning Commission to produce details of the agreement and adjourned further hearing for three weeks.
The petitioner alleged that on the recommendation of the Interior Ministry, the prime minister had exempted the project from the rules and regulations of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), allowing the Chinese firm to quote any price for equipment of its own specifications. Exploiting the security situation, the federal government did not float any tender or abide by the procedures for approval of the project, he added.
He maintained that the federal government had signed the contract with Huawei Technologies in February for what he said an extravagant security venture in Islamabad and Peshawar, involving $124.7 million and $109 million, respectively. According to the petitioner, the prices of the equipment being purchased under the agreement were three times higher than that in the open market and also cited press reports to highlight alleged involvement of kickbacks and commissions.

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