–Water Resources Minister Vawda accuses opposition of hatching conspiracy against dams
–Zardari tells NAB chairman to appear before parliament
–No foreign power, not even China, can save Pakistan during economic slide, says former president
ISLAMABAD: Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Monday raised concerns over the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s move to award the contract for the Rs309 billion Mohmand Dam project to a Descon-led consortium on a single bid basis, demanding rebidding be done to ensure transparency.
Speaking during a National Assembly session, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president argued that the manner in which the contract had been awarded had “put question marks” on the entire procedure. “The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PEPRA) rules allow the award of contracts on a single-bid basis, but with certain conditionalities,” he added.
“What was the urgency in awarding the contract?” Shehbaz questioned. “Why was rebidding not done?”
He said the bidding process for the project was initiated during the PML-N government, but it was the incumbent government that had awarded the contract. “The responsibility of awarding the contract for the project lies with the PTI government,” the PML-N president added.
Shehbaz said there was a “direct conflict of interest” in awarding the dam contract to the company allegedly owned by Abdul Razak Dawood, who is an adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Shehbaz claimed that the PML-N government had eliminated load shedding from the country by launching a number of projects on a war-footing basis
“If the country is facing load shedding again then it is due to the negligence and incapability of the present PTI government.”
He said the current government was generating electricity through furnace oil which is the most expensive fuel and LNG-based power plants were presently not functioning to full capacity.
‘CONSPIRACY AGAINST DAMS’:
As Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda stood up to respond to Shehbaz’s criticism, the opposition refused to listen to him and staged a walkout.
Meanwhile, Speaker Asad Qaiser ordered a headcount after PPP lawmaker Shagufta Jumani pointed out the quorum. The opposition bid to disrupt proceedings by pointing out the quorum failed, however, with the speaker declaring the house in order after the headcount.
Vawda in his remarks criticised the opposition for staging a walkout after delivering speeches and presenting “wrong facts before the house”.
Defending the government’s award of the Mohmand Dam contract to the Descon-led consortium, he said the project had been in files for 54 years and the PTI government had pulled it from there.
“The opposition is hatching a conspiracy against dams as they want to do politics on this issue,” he alleged.
Vawda said the Mohmand Dam will be completed under PM Imran’s government.
He said it was wrong to say that the contract had been awarded on a single-bid basis as five companies had submitted bids for the project after issuance of advertisements.
“The opposition leader has wrongly interpreted the PEPRA rules,” he claimed.
The minister said the government will not offer any NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance-like deal) to the opposition leaders.
“Their politics have been buried […] they will either go to jail or in exile.”
‘NAB CHIEF SHOULD APPEAR BEFORE PARLIAMENT’:
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari has stated that his party will continue to work for the strengthening of democracy and supremacy of the parliament.
Addressing the lower house, Zardari on Monday said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman should appear before the parliament in person, instead of lawmakers going to him to discuss the bureau’s procedure for moving against opposition members accused of corruption.
Speaking during a National Assembly session, the former president said the time has come for the parliament to call the NAB chairman and “proclaim a law” that before any parliamentarian is summoned by NAB, their case should come to the house committee on law so it can decide whether there is actually a case against the said lawmaker or their family.
Zardari said he was hearing of plans among various parties to call on the NAB chairman, purportedly to discuss the bureau’s anti-corruption drive that has ensnared several opposition members.
“Why will you go to the NAB chairman?” he asked the MNAs present, before declaring: “The NAB chairman should appear in person before the parliament.”
Zardari said the matter was not personal to him because he had encountered “many NABs” during his career and “will continue to face them”.
“The real issue is, what will happen when you are summoned [by the accountability watchdog]?” he said with a meaningful smile, addressing the treasury benches.
The PPP co-chairman said it was in the government’s interest to “tighten” the NAB as doing so will reduce the prevailing “insecurity” among the bureaucracy and the country will start functioning to some extent.
Criticising the PTI government’s performance of the first few months, he told the treasury members: “We will not bring down your [government], you will fall yourselves.”
He said he wants to work to strengthen the parliament and democracy, and pointing towards government benches said, “I also want to train these news friends that have come to the parliament.”
‘ECONOMIC SLIDE CANNOT BE PREVENTED’:
Zardari claimed that foreign financial support being given to Pakistan by friendly countries is welcome, but no “international force” can prevent the economic slide the country appeared to be heading towards because of PTI government’s policies.
“Considering the financial situation at present [and] the way decisions are being taken arbitrarily… the country cannot be managed in this manner,” the former president said.
The former president claimed that no foreign power, not even China, could save Pakistan once it starts its journey towards becoming a “failed state” on the sliding scale “because everyone will think of their own country”.
Zardari said during the PPP government’s tenure, he had generated interest for investment in Pakistan through his 15 visits to China. It later materalised in the form of the agreement leading to the handover of the Gwadar port to China, he added.
The NA was session was adjourned until 11am on Tuesday.