ISLAMABAD - The project of new secretariat block is still awaiting a saviour for completion though the cost has reached Rs 4.8 billion from Rs 1.17 billion in the last nine years, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The documents available with The Nation reveal that former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz decided to build the new secretariat block at Constitution Avenue to shift several federal ministries and allocated Rs 1.17 billion in 2005.

The federal government awarded the construction contract of two basements, one ground floor and a nine-storey building to M/s Interhom (Pvt) Ltd. The construction firm which started the work on the site on July 7, 2007, was supposed to complete it on June 30, 2013, as per the agreement.

During the construction, the government revised the allocated budget twice— first it was revised to Rs 3.47 billion on March 30, 2009, and then to Rs 4.8 billion on March 12, 2015.

After completion of the main building construction in 2013, the government awarded the contract of Rs 254 million for external development to M/s Construction Management and Engineering Services (Pvt) Ltd. As per the agreement, the firm was bound to complete the work on September 30, 2015, but only 69 percent work has so far been completed.

The documents further disclosed the government signed an agreement worth Rs 300 million on June 30, 2015, with M/s M Saleem Engineering &Co for 32 bathrooms/kitchens for ministers and secretaries. As per the agreement, the firm was bound to complete the work till 2nd November, 2015, but 80 percent work is still pending. Sources told The Nation that the building of the new secretariat block is almost ready, but it is not functional due to absence of elevators. Several ministries are functioning in hired buildings and paying over rent of Rs 14 million per month, they added.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also wants a secretariat for Council of Common Interests (CCI). He also wants to allot offices to all the four chief ministers for conducting meetings properly.” In this regard, the PM constituted a committee under the supervision of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and advised him to allocate the offices to different ministries. The finance minister announced in April 2014 that the offices of the ministries functioning in private buildings would be shifted to the new block in next few months. Almost after 10 months of his announcement, the status of the new secretariat block is still unchanged.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal has also directed the Housing Ministry officials to complete the work as soon as possible.