Govern­ment stands to lose a min­i­mum of Nu.125m: Op­po­si­tion

Bhutan Times - - Home - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing

In or­der to save Nu.21 mil­lion the Govern­ment stands to lose a min­i­mum of Nu.125m. “Com­pen­sa­tion of Nu.75m of­fered to the two con­trac­tors plus a pos­si­ble cost in­crease of Nu.50m”, op­po­si­tion mem­bers said, at Meet­the-press last Thurs­day.

Da­gana had been rec­og­nized as one of the most un­der­de­vel­oped Dzongkhags, with high in­ci­dence of poverty, mainly due to con­nec­tiv­ity prob­lems.

South Thim­phu MP Yeshey Zimba said The Govern­ment had ac­corded high pri­or­ity to con­struc­tion and im­prove­ment of mo­tor roads dur­ing the 10th plan. “The most im­por­tant road project was the Da­gapela to Lhamoidz­ingkha high­way ap­proved by the former govern­ment.” He said.

The Govern­ment of Nether­land has funded half cost for the con­struc- tion of the Da­gapelaL-hamoidz­ingkha high­way.

The MP said the govern­ment of Nether­land, through an agency named ORIO, agreed to pro­vide 50 per­cent of the cost as grant. The to­tal cost of the 80.58km road project was estimated at Euro 21.34mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the op­po­si­tion party, the project was di­vided into three pack­ages and ten­dered out for in­ter­na­tional com­pet­i­tive bid­ding (ICB) and awarded in Septem­ber 2014.

The pack­age ‘A’ ex­tents 29km cost­ing of Nu.354.88mil­lion was ten­dered to Ko­lika Con­struc­tion of Nepal and Yanghil Con­struc­tion in Bhutan. The pack­age ‘B’ con­sists of 20km which cost of Nu.415.73m was ten­dered to Tundi Con­struc­tion of Nepal. While the pack­age ‘C’ of 31.6km at the cost of Nu.358.18mil­lion (Da­gapela to Ge­sar­ling) was awarded to Gaseb-SPML joint ven­ture.

How­ever, he said Ms Rin­son-Jaiprakash As­so­ci­ates, one of the bid­ders, com­plained to Anti Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (ACC) that it was the low­est bid­der at Nu. 336.6mil­lion and that the award of pack­age ‘C’ to Gaseb-SPML was not fair.

“The ACC, af­ter car­ry­ing out a thor­ough re­view and find­ing no ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion, in­structed the Govern­ment to reeval­u­ate the ten­der or re­voke the con­tract and re-ten­der in the in­ter­est of bet­ter value for money,” added­ing that the Govern­ment, for rea­sons not known, can­celled the con­tract pack­age B and C with no regard to the in­evitable de­lay in the works and sub­se­quent cost es­ca­la­tion which would have se­ri­ous reper­cus­sion on value for money.

“The third pack­age was not can­celled and work is in progress,” MP said.

How­ever, the Govern­ment had re­peat­edly cleared that the rea­son for the can­celled of the con­tract was the or­der is­sued by ACC which cast doubts on preva­lence of cor­rup­tive prac­tices in the award of the con­tract.

“The rep­u­ta­tion and im­age of the of­fi­cials of the Min­istry of Work and Hu­man Set­tle­ment (MoWHS) and the con­trac­tors have un­for­tu­nately been tar­nished,” MP Yeshey Zimba said.

“The Govern­ment of­fered com­pen­sa­tion of Nu.35m to Tundi and Nu.40.0m to Gase­bSPML. Ms Tundi ac­cepted the com­pen­sa­tion. Gaseb- SPML how­ever re­fused to ac­cept the com­pen­sa­tion and in­stead took the min­istry to court,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to the op­po­si­tion par­ties, the con­tract had been awarded in keep­ing with es­tab­lished prac­tices, rules and reg­u­la­tions of the Govern­ment. Gase­bSPML sub­mit­ted a claim for Nu.330.0 mil­lion to the court.

He also said presently the case is be­fore an Ar­bi­tra­tion Com­mit­tee as re­quired by the con­tract agree­ment. In the mean­time the Supreme Court up­held the de­ci­sion of the Thim­phu Dzongkhag Court or­der­ing the Govern­ment to pay Gase­bSPML a sum of Nu.150.0 m by the 10th of July pend­ing the Ar­bi­tra­tion Com­mit­tee de­ci­sion.

He added that the main rea­son for the ACC rec­om­men­da­tion was that the Govern­ment had not made any at­tempt to gain bet­ter value for money, by a more thor­ough eval­u­a­tion, given that the bid sub­mit­ted by the low­est bid­der was 21.0 m lower.

He also said while can­celling the con­tract the Govern­ment con­ve­niently for­got about the in­evitable cost es­ca­la­tion and ben­e­fits for­gone by the pack­age.

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