ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Communications was informed Friday that National Highway Authority (NHA) Multan-Sukkur Motorway Project (MSMP) was processed and awarded as per the prevalent rules and regulations with total transparency and there was no question of violation of any rule in this regard.

NHA Chairman Jawwad Rafique Malik told the committee that the matter was discussed in Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue and it was briefed that rules and regulations were followed in award of the project.

However, he regretted that a section of media misreported the proceedings of the meeting.

He also requested the media to show responsibility while reporting on projects like China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.” No friend of Pakistan can try to make CPEC controversial by misreporting”, he said adding that Multan-Sukkur Motorway (M-5) was the flagship project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

He said that the project was included in the Framework Agreement signed between Government of People’s Republic of China and Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and was funded by China.

He said the agreement envisaged bidding between constructors nominated by Chinese government and the project to be implemented on EPC basis.

Jawwad said the bidding was carried out between three nominated bidders and procurement was conducted in accordance with PPRA Rule-5 which envisages precedence of international agreements over local laws.

Following the technical and financial evaluation, M/s China State Construction Engineering Corporation emerged as the lowest evaluated bidder with original bid price of Rs406 billion.

The NHA chairman said it was not true that original bid price was Rs240 billion and was increased subsequently.

Discussions with the lowest bidder were held on the original bid and the alternate bid (submitted by the lowest evaluated bidder along with the original bid). The submission of alternate bid was as per the standard practice of Pakistan Engineering Council and provisions of bidding documents. Under EPC mode, bidding is carried out on the basis of employer’s requirements which list down the broad parameters of the infrastructure facility that is to be constructed.

The bidders carry out their own preliminary design that meets the Employer’s Requirements and submit their bids accordingly. Therefore, clarification meetings with the lowest evaluated bidder are a norm for optimizing the scope and ultimately the price. It is also pertinent to highlight that no grievance was ever raised by any of the two participating bidder.

The contract was finalized at the rationalized bid price of Rs294 billion envisaging exemption of duties on import of construction equipment/materials.

For this purpose, the bid price was reduced to the tune of Rs19 billion, he said.

The PC-I of the project was revised on the basis of finalized bid and approval of ECNEC was obtained prior to signing of Contract Agreement.

This approved PC-1 included exemption of above mentioned duties. The case for approval of exemptions was initiated simultaneously; however, it took considerable time in the approval process as many stakeholders like FBR, Ministry of Finance, etc. were involved.

The provision of exemptions was not the first instance as similar exemptions were earlier granted on other mega projects including Lahore Islamabad Motorway (M-2) and Peshawar Islamabad Motorway (M-1).

He said a reduction to the tune of $200 million in project cost was achieved against this exemption which was duly approved by Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) and Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet.

He clarified that in PSDP projects the NHA had to bear the cost of risk of escalation of material prices, but EPC contracts risk of escalation and taxes lies with the contractor. Jawwad said that over 19000 Pakistanis have got jobs in the Multan-Sukkur Motorway.