NAB Identifies $22Mln “Irregularities” in Laptop Procurement Under PM Youth Program

(PKONWEB) — The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has reportedly identified major irregularities in Prime Minister Laptop Scheme (PMLS) run under the supervision of Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan.

Reports say a local company violated contract with HEC by procuring locally manufactured laptops against terms of the agreement set forth in the tender.

As a result, NAB alleges, there was $22 million of revenue losses to the federal tax revenue agency called FBR.

The anti-graft watchdog is set to launch inquiry into the case and titled it ‘non-duty paid 200,000 laptops’ by initiating a reference against those it suspects may be involved.

“Under PM’s Youth Laptop Scheme, 300,000 laptops have been distributed among talented university students across the country, whereas 200,000 more “Made in Pakistan” laptops will be distributed by the end of 2018.”

The HEC purchased 200,000 laptops at a stated cost of $90 million, however, the private company opted to evade import duties by providing locally manufactured laptops.

As per the supply agreement, one-third of 200,000 laptops had to be completely imported (condition #1) while remaining laptops had to be assembled locally having at least two-third imported components (condition #2). Both the conditions were flouted, NAB has alleged.

NAB accuses the vendor of not importing even a single laptop in a complete knocked down state leading to “huge revenue loss to the national treasury”.

Moreover, the anti-graft watchdog found no record related to post-shipment inspection of the laptops and payments made to the private vendor by HEC under the preagreed PRAL mode.

“The HEC has shown sheer negligence by paying the vendor against the agreed terms and conditions,” NAB said in the summary sent to its top management for approval.

As per the contract, the total cost of the computers was slated to be $98.5 million including taxes, and $77.5 million without taxes, warranting a thorough investigation for $22 million revenue losses to the FBR.

The Transparency International Pakistan through its letter had already raised an objection over the purchase of laptops, Pakistan Today has reported.

The HEC chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed told a local media that they introduced a company that would manufacture laptops locally so that it could benefit the country. “We have not lost anything but have actually gained in the scheme,” Ahmed added.

“The agreement nowhere has any element which could affirm that it was necessary to import the laptops and there is an independent monitoring committee, which oversees the matters,” he said.

“Following the objections by the Transparency International, we purchased costlier laptops,” the HEC chairman asserted, adding that he had no knowledge of the NAB investigations.

NAB says the “HEC has contracted serious violations of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Pepra) rules by unlawful purchases of laptops.”

HEC says it has distributed over 400,000 laptops under the countrywide scheme for youth.

The PMO Youth Program website in its Feb 19, 2018 report says, “Under PM’s Youth Laptop Scheme, 300,000 laptops have been distributed among talented university students across the country, whereas 200,000 more “Made in Pakistan” laptops will be distributed by the end of 2018.”

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