PEC accused of issuing ‘illegal’ licenses to foreign firms | Pakistan Today

PEC accused of issuing ‘illegal’ licenses to foreign firms

–Spokesman denies charge, says reservations expressed by seven members out of 66-member body is ‘minority opinion’

ISLAMABAD: Seven senior members of the governing body of Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) have accused the council’s administration of causing serious damage to the national economy by issuing licenses to foreign firms for execution of construction and operation projects worth billions of rupees without joint ventures (JVs) with Pakistani companies.

The members of the council, in a letter issued to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) minister and secretary, called for the constitution of a commission of inquiry to probe the issuance of licenses to foreign construction and operation firms without ensuring their project-specific joint venture agreements with their Pakistani counterparts where expertise and specialised technology was not available with the latter in total violation of by-laws.

However, PEC Spokesman Khadim Hussain Bhatti said there was no violation of the laws in the issuance of licenses to the foreign companies.

“The nine-member Enrollment Committee approves cases of foreign companies as strictly as per laws. There might be the difference of opinion by certain members of the general body but out of 66-member’s general body, seven members’ reservations would be count as a minority opinion,” he added.

On the contrary, the documents available with Pakistan Today suggest that the governing body members Engineer Professor Dr Salim Tabbassum, Engineer Mian Sultan Mahmood, Engineer Professor Dr Mohammad Zafar Noon, Engineer Dr Izhar-ul-Haq, Dr Niaz Ahmed, Engineer Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain, Engineer Dr Abdul Sattar Shakir and Dr Shahab Khushnood have prayed that clauses 7(2) and 4 (11) of “Construction and Operation of Engineering Works By-Law 1987” have been violated in this case.

The letter read as: “… Clauses 7(2) and 4 (11) of “Construction and Operation of Engineering Works By-Laws 1987” clearly state that with the execution of joint venture agreements of Pakistani constructors or operators for specific projects, only with such foreign constructors or operators which possess the expertise and specialised technology not available in Pakistan could transform the facilities and experience into transfer of technology, capacity building, expertise and time and cost optimisation, which will boost economic growth in the country, which is the main objective of the PEC’s constitution.”

The governing body members have claimed that details about at least 18 no-limit gigantic and three C+1 category foreign firms, which were issued licenses, could be found on the PEC’s official website while the status of similar eight or nine cases had not been updated yet, where no joint venture agreements had been made.

Even in many cases where expertise was already available with Pakistani constructors and operators, licenses were issued to foreign firms, thus causing huge financial and intellectual damage to the nation, they alleged.

Moreover, “illegal licenses” to foreign firms were issued till June 2018, which was again a violation of clause (5) of the “Construction and Operation of Engineering Works  By-Laws 1987”, under which licenses could be issued every year with validity up to December 31 of the year of issue, they added.

They further added that the issuance of illegal licenses for execution of construction operation projects worth billions of rupees without joint ventures with Pakistani firms, not only deprived Pakistani engineers and companies of their legitimate right but also caused impairment to intellectual and transfer of technological growth to Pakistan simultaneous to damaging its economy.

Meanwhile, on raising objection over the grave violation of the PEC Act and by-laws, the accountable persons in the governing body tried to camouflage the issue and put forward a resolution in the body’s 25th meeting under “Any Other Matters” to condone the condition of joint venture agreement with Pakistan firms. That attempt was devised in a hash posh manner towards the end of the meeting when the members were leaving their seats as neither dissent observation of some members were adhered to nor recorded in the minutes of the meeting, they alleged.

In this way, they claimed, the whole procedure for amendment in the by-laws, vis-à-vis agenda point in the meeting, referral to the CRC Committee, referral to the Act and By-Laws Committee, vetting of the act and by-laws committee, and then proper deliberations in the governing body meeting were ignored.

The proposed amendment was never sent to the MoST for a legal opinion from the Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, they added.

They said any amendment, which was contrary to the spirit, main functions and objectives of the PEC Act and denying thereto the regulation of engineering profession as a key driving force for achieving rapid and growth in all national, economic and social fields could not be discussed.

The governing body members claimed that they took up the matter in the CRC meeting some 10 months ago and made it part of its minutes, but even then the elements at the helm of PEC affairs continued issuing illegal licenses.

They said the PEC administration was reportedly planning to forward the “illegal and unlawful” amendment to MoST for sanction and vetting of their illegal acts of omission and commission and urged the secretary to turn down the same in the larger national interest.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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