Multimillion dollar contract awarded to private company to track tobacco products

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has awarded a multimillion dollar contract for license of track and trace system of tobacco products to M/S National Radio & Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC), reported The News.

Chairman FBR Shabbar Zaidi told the publication the contract had been awarded to the lowest bidder. “We stuck to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules for awarding this contract,” he added.

However, according to the report, other top officials claim that the FBR sought the viewpoint of ministry of law on a “typo mistake” committed in the bidding document and allowed them to rectify it.

The question arises whether the FBR sought any comments of PPRA or not before awarding the contract.

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The FBR in its earlier evaluation report stated, “The bidder has offered price of Rs0.731 with the unit of 1,000 stamps. However, the bidder claimed that this price quoted is per one stamp and not per quoted 1,000 stamps. As per Annex-6 of IFL, the bidder was required to offer rate per 1000 stamps and not per stamp. Therefore, the rate quoted in the bid is to be taken such i.e. 0.731 per 1,000 stamps. However, if the contention of the bidder is accepted, the cost comes to Rs731 per 1,000 stamps. Apparently, the bidder has violated annex-6 of the IFL and if the bidder does not agree to Rs0.731 per 1000 stamps, the next lowest responsive bidder may be offered the license,” the FBR evaluation report added.

According to the report, the recommendations of the Licensing Committee were considered in the Board-in-Council meeting dated October 14, 2019 in which the Board unanimously decided that the Member (IR-Operations), FBR, may take further steps in light of the recommendations made by the Licensing Committee, in the light of the Licensing Rules 2019 (SRO # 250(I)/2019, dated February 26, 2019) read with PPRA Rules 2004, said the FBR.

Taking this into account, the FBR has granted license to NRTC at price of Rs731 per 1,000 stamps for a period of five years to establish, maintain and operate the whole process/system of Trace and Trace System for tobacco products in Pakistan subject to the terms and conditions as stipulated in Licensing Rules 2019, Invitation for Licensing (IFL) and other relevant laws, the letter added.

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