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One school desk to cost Rs29,500 in Sindh: TIP

Desk for 1.5 million pupils to be bought. (Source: File)

ISLAMABAD: Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has penned down a letter to Sindh chief minister, highlighting that the provincial education department was allegedly purchasing dual desks for public schools at a 320% higher rate.

In its letter, addressed to CM Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, the TIP said that the provincial education department on June 10, 2021, awarded four contracts for the “supply & delivery of dual desks in public sector schools of Sindh” worth Rs 5 billion at rates that varied between Rs 23, 985 per desk to Rs. 29,500 per desk.

Transparency added that the previous tenders for the same procurement of the dual desk furniture were invited by the SELD, Govt. of Sindh, two years ago, precisely on Feb 17, 2019, for a smaller quantity.

“The lowest evaluated tender prices received from responsive bidders for these tenders varied between Rs 5,700 to Rs 6,860 per desk, inclusive of all taxes. However, the School Education & Literacy Department for unknown reasons did not award the contracts,” it added.

The TIP said that keeping in view the difference between the minimum cost of Rs 5,700 and Rs. 23,985 per desk, the current tenders have been awarded at 320% higher prices, which is estimated to have caused a loss of about Rs3.3 billion to the exchequer.

The letter further stated SELD prepared highly inflated engineering estimates of Rs 24,500 per desk, as their market price, though the same desks were offered in open bidding to SELD in 2019 at a maximum price of Rs 6,860 per desk.

Keeping in view a 10 percent annual escalation in prices, the TIP conveyed to the CM that the maximum estimated cost should have been Rs 9,000 per desk which included two-and-a-half years’ escalation of 30 percent.

The chief minister was urged to take action against the officers of the department concerned and the contractors for causing a loss worth of billions of rupees to the exchequer. The CM was reminded that the TIP had protested in April 2019 for not awarding the contract by the SELD to the lowest bidder and the chief minister was also informed about it.