Islamabad - The Auditor General of Pakistan, in its annual audit report for the year 2016-17, has acknowledged that savings worth billions of rupees were made in the award of highway and motorway contracts through an open and transparent process.

This was stated by Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar during a meeting of the sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held at the parliament house on Friday.

According to the report, “Management of NHA has carried out an independent review of cost-effective procurement of major projects undertaken by NHA during the period 1st of July 2013 to 31st December 2016. According to the report, NHA entered into contracts for 104 works for Rs761.90 billion against the bid price /engineer’s estimate of Rs978.29 billion, resulting in savings of Rs261.39 billion. In addition, another saving of Rs134.889 billion was observed by undertaking certain important and imperative projects on BOT basis without any financing from or through Government Exchequer.”

Such an acknowledgement in the Auditor General’s Report by itself was unprecedented, said the chairman.

He informed the committee that the entire process of bidding was made open and competitive as a result of which 56 highway construction projects that were initiated between January 2013 and September 2017, were awarded at 21.56 percent below the original bid or engineer’s estimates.

Similarly, 129 maintenance projects were awarded at 22.51 percent below the original bid or engineer’s estimate for the same period. Chairman informed the meeting that work on several projects was initiated during the last four years. These projects were not only revived but also successfully completed. He gave the example of Lowari Tunnel which he said, was completed and opened for traffic in July. Similarly, in Balochistan, around 650 km road network was added with connectivity with Gwadar. Lyari Expressway, another sick project, was in the final stages of completion and would hopefully be inaugurated next month, he said.

The sub-committee reviewed NHA’s replies against audit observations on Khanewal-Multan Motorway (M-4), Indus Highway (N-55) and Hazara Motorway projects, and recommended for their settlement after accepting the department’s reply.