Non-compliance to activities related to widening north-east highway by the departments of roads’ (DoR) regional office in Thimphu, Lobesa, Trongsa, and Lingmethang incurred huge losses to the government.
The progress of the project, supposed to be completed by 2017, was impeded due to misuse of funds; non-compliance to technical specification, awarding of contract; inadmissible expenditure and hindrance; and change in specifications of work, were among the findings of the compliance audit report.
Non-realisation of cost difference of Nu 9.553 million (M) from M/s Raven Builders and Company Ltd and non-return of excessive issue of bitumen on completion of bituminous works had resulted in misuse amounting to Nu 14.966M within the Thimphu regional office.
Lobesa regional office had made inadmissible payments of 5M for works beyond the approved carriageway width, for works beyond approved width, and for works beyond the carriageway width approved in the revised drawing.
Two sub audit findings were forwarded to anti-corruption commission (ACC) for non-compliance related to direct award of contract.
DoR awarded contracts to M/s Empire construction with resultant financial implications to the government amounting to Nu 15.861M in contravention to the procurement rules.
Awarding direct contracts without adhering to the rules cost the government Nu 39.40M.
Lingmethang regional office had not complied with required technical specification and accepted road construction where the formation width was not maintained at the required 10.5 metres in few stretches of the road.
Out of seven non-compliance related to direct award of work, three observations with elements of corrupt practices were forwarded to ACC, including the direct award of contract to M/s Bhutan ZeoCrete Pavement Technologies.
The other case with ACC is the office’s failure to incorporate the cost and risk factor for the demonstration of technology in the contract agreement as required in the letter by the secretary of works and human settlement ministry to the minister.
The office, under instructions from the ministry, revised the contract amount with undue benefit to the contractor amounting to Nu 6.684M.
The Trongsa regional office had granted unjustified additional works of Nu 15.028M resulting in further delay in the completion of the contract works and violation of procurement norms.
The office, experiencing abnormal delays and foreseeing contractor’s failure to complete the contract works within the completion deadline, had drawn up a Milestone Commitment Agreement three months before the completion of the project, granting time extension of four months for completion.
It has also failed to enforce the contract requirements and incurred inadmissible expenditure on the cost of maintenance and boulder walls amounting to Nu 27.650M. It granted excessive time extensions and accepted the work that was not carried out as per specification.
These regional offices had failed to ensure compliance from the contractors on deploying and maintaining key equipment at the project sites and failed to recover the applicable penalty of Nu 40.579M.
Non-compliance to 15 percent enhancement of the formation cutting works had also resulted in inadmissible payment of Nu 5.329M.
The GoI-funded project is worth Nu 7.2 billion.
The scope of work handled by Project DANTAK was not considered for the audit.
The public accounts committee of Parliament last week recommended DoR to constitute a technical team to review estimates and ascertain flaws, ambiguities and other related problems and rule out the existence of collusive practices.