Officials involved in RNPP irregularities likely to face action soon

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Staff Reporter:

The Housing and Public Works Ministry is likely to initiate departmental action soon against the officials involved in irregularities in the Green City Housing Project of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project.

“We’re very serious and we’ve taken the issue very seriously. We’ll soon start a legal process for departmental action against the corrupt officials,” Housing and Public Works Minister Rezaul Karim told UNB on Saturday.

A hearing on the alleged corruption by the Public Works Department (PWD) officials under the ministry is expected to be held on Sunday.

Following a writ petition filed by a Supreme Court lawyer, the ministry submitted a probe report to the attorney general’s office on July 15 for submitting it to the High Court.

Rezaul Karim informed that the ministry would go for a thorough analysis of the probe committee report which found anomalies involving Tk 36.4 crore in purchasing furniture and other household items for officials of the housing project of the nuclear power plant.

Following reports on alleged irregularities, the ministry formed two probe bodies which also recommended departmental and legal actions against 50 officials for their alleged involvement in the irregularities.

According to the probe reports, a Tk 113.63-crore deal was signed with three companies for the supply of furniture and electrical appliances for four buildings of the Green City Housing Project. But the actual price of those items was Tk 77.23 crore.

Each pillow was shown to have cost Tk 5,957 and Tk 760 was shown as the lifting charge for each pillow while an electric stove was shown to have been bought for Tk 7,747 with an additional lifting charge of Tk 6,650.

The purchase price of an electric kettle was reportedly Tk 5,313 and its lifting cost was Tk 2,945.

Similarly, a room-cleaning machine, purchased at Tk 12,018, was lifted spending Tk 6,650.

Meanwhile, some ministry officials blamed anomalies and discrepancies in PWD’s Schedule of Rates (SoR) for the irregularities in the housing project, saying those provide scope for such corruption through connivance between officials and contractors.

Referring to the “Analysis of PWD SoR, 15th Edition, published by PWD, dated May 1, 2018”, they said this SoR gave scope for corruption as through it, contractors can supply substandard goods and works at relatively higher prices.

Citing an example, the officials said the page 2019 of the SoR provides a rate for steel structure materials and fixes 10 percent profit for the suppliers and 6 percent value added tax (VAT) on it.

But when a supplier submits a bill after supply of goods worth Tk 100, the PWD officials deduct 11 percent instead of 6 percent VAT where the extra 5 percent is never mentioned anywhere.

As a result, the supplier tries to supply substandard goods to cover up his extra payment of 5 percent, they said.

Some contractors also said steps should be taken to stop such unfair practice.

They said they have to pay 7 percent VAT instead of previous 5 percent this year. In addition, they have to pay 3 percent advance income tax although annually the large suppliers have to pay 35 percent corporate tax.unb

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