AHORE - While the country's import bill and the resulting trade deficit is continuously mounting, some vested interests in the top bureaucracy of Punjab have decided to award Rs3.2 billion contract to the multinational companies for installation of computer labs in over 4,200 secondary schools, denying all the top local computer brands even to enter the bidding, it was learnt reliably on Friday. The sourced while talking to The Nation said that the local computer brands, which are already pre-qualified with the Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD), Govt of Punjab, have been denied participation in the bidding which is a clear violation of the department's procurement wing's notification. They said the Punjab govt's procurement wing's notification dated Sept 11, 2008, after granting pre-qualification status to these local IT companies, declared it necessary to invite them in the bidding for purchasing any IT products by the govt, along with other multinational companies. According to them, the notification listed the pre-qualified companies included Raffles, Inbox, CTI, CMC-Online and MIT-Orazon while the names of international computer brands consisted of IBM/Lenovo, Compaq/HP, Dell, Acer and Fujitsu/Siemens. After the govt is planning to computerise 4,200 secondary schools all over the province with a hefty amount of Rs3.2b, Chief Additional Secretary Javed Aslam, who was assigned this task of awarding the contract, had, in connivance with the multinational companies, finalised to hand over this project to the international computer brands including HP, Acer, Dell, Seimens and IBM, they added. The sources claimed that the team of top bureaucracy, including Chief Additional Secretary Javed Aslam, Secy IT Department Khawja Shumail, Secretary Education Nadeem Ashraf and PIMU Project Director M Asif, in their attempt to keep top local computer brands away from this project, have intentionally devised such a criteria which goes in favour of multinational companies. For instance, they have imposed a strict condition that the company whose turnover will be more than Rs500m will only be eligible to take part in the bidding, while no such company exists in the country whose turnover is more than Rs500 million, the sources elaborated their point. On one the hand, the sources said, the govt passes statements for the promotion of local industry while on the other its policies were practically crushing the local developers. These local computer brands are also exporting PCs to over seven countries, the sources said. It is to be noted here that one of these local companies, being denied to enter the bidding, has successfully computerised the DCO offices in 32 divisions of the whole province. This local IT company has also effectively installed PCs in PITB. The sources in the All Pakistan Computer Manufacturers Association confided to The Nation that the government is "discouraging" transfer of technology and local investors. According to IDSC and Spring Board, the annual IT growth in Pakistan was at 20 per cent on average during the tenure of the previous government, and now this has reduced to 7.5pc this year. When the international brands of computer saw the fast growth of local computer brands, they with the association of bureaucracy imposed tax on it. When The Nation contacted Deputy Director Monitoring and Coordination M Shafiq, he pointed out that no decision has been taken and the government has made a committee to evaluate all the local as well as foreign companies, which have been pre-qualified by the S&GAD. He made it clear that we wanted warrantee of at least three years from the local companies, which asked the govt to get warrantee from the multinational companies whose parts they use in their PCs. "So we are compelled to call the foreign firms in the bidding otherwise there were all local computer brands in competition for bidding," Shafiq said. The Nation also repeatedly tried to contact Additional Chief Secretary Javed Aslam and Secretary Education Nadim Ashraf, but they did not respond.