'We have taken the issue very seriously. We will soon begin the legal process fordepartmental action against the corrupt officials'
The Housing and Public Works Ministry is likely to take departmental action against officials involved in irregularities regarding the Green City Housing Project of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project soon, Housing and Public Works Minister Rezaul Karim said on Saturday.
“We have taken the issue very seriously. We will soon begin the legal process fordepartmental action against the corrupt officials,” said the minister.
A hearing on the alleged corruption by officials of the ministry’s Public Works Department (PWD) 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 for forwarding to the High Court on July 15.
According to the Housing and Public Works minister, the ministry will thoroughly analyze the probe report, which found a Tk36.4 crore anomaly in the purchase of furniture and other household items for officials of the housing project of the nuclear power plant.
After the allegations of irregularities had emerged, the ministry formed two probe bodies to investigate the matter.The probe bodies have recommended departmental and legal action 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. However, the actual price of the items amounted to Tk77.23 crore.
Each pillow was shown to have cost Tk5,957, with a lifting charge of Tk760 each. An electric stove was shown to have been bought for Tk7,747, with an additional lifting charge of Tk6,650.The purchase price of an electric kettle was reportedly Tk5,313, and its lifting charge Tk2,945.
Similarly, a vacuum cleaner purchased at Tk12,018 had a lifting charge of Tk6,650.
A number of ministry officials blamed anomalies and discrepancies in PWD's Schedule of Rates (SoR) for the irregularities in the housing project, saying it provides the scope for corruption through connivance between officials and contractors.
Referring to the "Analysis of PWD SoR, 15th Edition,” published by the PWD on May 1, 2018, they said the SoR gave the scope for corruption as it allows contractors to supply substandard goods and work at relatively higher prices.
Citing an example, the officials said page 2019 of the SoR provides a rate for steel structure materials and fixes profit at 10% profit for the suppliers with 6% VAT.
However, when a supplier submits a bill after supplying goods worth Tk100, the PWD officials deduct 11% instead of 6% VAT, without mentioning the extra 5%. As a result, the supplier tries to supply substandard goods to cover up the extra payment of 5%, the officials added.
Some contractors also said steps should be taken to stop such unfair practices.
They said they have to pay 7% VAT instead of previous 5% this year. In addition, they have to pay 3% advance income tax, even though large suppliers have to pay 35% corporate tax annually.