SHC bars Sindh govt from awarding contracts

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The Sindh High Court has restrained the provincial government and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation till further orders from awarding further contracts for the World Bank’s Rs3,600 million Competitive and Livable City of Karachi (CLICK).

The interim order came at a hearing of a lawsuit filed by Mohammad Rameez Khan and others against the alleged non-transparent use of the WB-funded project. The plaintiff’s counsel Ziaul Haq Makhdoom said the government had initiated the WB-funded project CLICK to improve urban management, service delivery and business environment in the city.

He said the CLICK project was a separate project for the improvement of the city’s infrastructure and it had no concern or attachment with the KMC.

He said it had to award its project independently after observing the local laws, including but not limited to Sindh Public Procurement Act and its rules, and also procurement regulations prescribed by the World Bank, the donor.

The counsel said the false project under the name of emergency road repair work had also been conceived by the KMC whereby Rs3,600 million had been awarded to various contractors.

He alleged that no step in accordance with the procurement law was taken by the KMC and the contracts were awarded directly to blue-eyed companies without any advertisement, thus depriving the plaintiffs of participation in the open bidding process, which may have saved public money and also enhanced the quality of work.

The counsel stated that since funds were provided by the WB in terms of regulation, which asked for its utilisation by the borrowing entity for a transparent mechanism that included the advertisement at least and thus this regulation would be diluted just because it was an emergent need for a situation which may occur periodically.

A single bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui, observed that court had already directed the government and the KMC to file the entire record of tenders awarded to the contractors out of the Rs3,600 million funds provided by the WB.

The court observed that all those contracts which had been awarded shall be considered on the touchstone of the proposition raised by the plaintiff.

It observed that in case it is determined that the process of awarding of contracts have not been followed to ensure transparent implementation of procurement rules, appropriate orders for those awards will be passed.

The court said that as funds of Rs3,600 million have been provided by the WB to meet the urgent need of the situation through transparent consumption, it would be deemed appropriate that no further contracts be awarded till further orders.

It observed that the counsel for the KMC and the Sindh government shall come prepared so that questions raised by the plaintiff’s counsel with regard to transparency in the award of contracts could be examined.

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