PAC, PEC at loggerhead on issuance of illegal license to foreign firms

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) are at a loggerhead on the matter of issuance of an illegal license to foreign firms, it has been learnt.

PAC two months back had asked PEC to provide information about the number of licenses issued to foreign firms for execution of construction projects, furthermore it has been further alleged that the foreign firms have been awarded projects worth billions of rupees ignoring mandatory condition of issuing project specific licenses and joint venture with Pakistani companies under clause 4(1) and 7(2) of construction and operation of engineering works bylaws.

The PEC in its reply on March 19, 2018, stated that PEC is a regulatory body and its work is to adjust as well as check the influx of international consultants, builders, constructors and operators who would like to take advantage without giving benefit to our local industry.

“In order to keep a check on the flow of undue benefit to the foreign companies, PEC, the governing body, after a detailed deliberation with the stakeholders decided to issue an annual based license with annual renewal fee instead of giving project specific license as is in vogue for local firms”.

The consideration was to have a direct check on the progress of foreign firms and to ensure that they enter into joint ventures with local PEC registered companies for transfer of technology practice and sharing of benefits, the letter stated.

The letter further stated that the allegation on PEC on awarding projects worth billions of rupees is not correct because PEC is a regulatory body having no concern with the award of projects.

The contracts are awarded by employing agencies following PEC’s rules and regulations, nevertheless, it is clearly mentioned on the foreign companies licenses issued by PEC that the client will ensure before awarding the contract to a foreign company that it has entered into joint venture with a Pakistani company as per the requirements of bylaws, added the letter.

Documents available with the scribe state that the PAC has declared the reply of PEC unsatisfactory and said that foreign companies have to enter into a joint venture with Pakistani companies prior to the issuance of licenses and PEC letter itself is in violation of the acts and bylaws. As a result, these projects are hampering the local economy.

While declaring the reply unsatisfactory, the PAC chairman in one another letter requested Ministry of Science and Technology secretary to look into this case and submit a report to the secretariat within seven working days.

Science and Technology secretary while talking to Pakistan Today stated that I am preparing the reply and it would soon be submitted to PAC.

Sources acquainted with the matter told that PEC awarded more than 2 dozen licenses to Chinese and Turkish companies and other contractors and these companies have been awarded infrastructure projects not only ignoring the PC-1 but in some cases, the government does not even recognise the prospective bidders.

Another source stated that the term of incumbent chairman PEC is going to end in July this year and PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Shah is biased in this case as the current PEC chairman had defeated the Syed Khursheed Shah’s brother in chairmanship elections in 2015.

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