Wednesday Sep 15 2021
Web Desk

‘Misappropriation of Rs3bn’: PTI demands probe into buying of school desks at high rates by Sindh govt

Web Desk
Schoolchildren sit in a class, studying their textbooks. Photo: The News International
Schoolchildren sit in a class, studying their textbooks. Photo: The News International

  • Haleem Adil Sheikh visits Liaquatabad furniture market to find out rates of school desks. 
  • A TIP letter to the Sindh govt had said that a dual desk was bought by Sindh govt for Rs23,895- Rs29,500 per unit. 
  • PTI leader blames former education minister Saeed Ghani for the scam. 

KARACHI: The PTI has demanded a probe into a Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) complaint which alleged that the Sindh government had bought dual desks at exorbitant rates.

Sindh Assembly Opposition leader Haleem Haleem Adil Sheikh visited the furniture market in Liaquatabad to find out the rates of different desks that are bought by schools.

He bought one and took it to the Sindh Assembly building. Sheikh held a press conference sitting on one of the desks, saying that he had asked the Sindh government questions in the assembly but had so far not received a response.

Taking a shot at the Sindh government, Sheikh said he bought the same desk bought by the provincial authorities for Rs29,500 was bought by him for Rs5,000.

"The Sindh government has purchased 160,000 desks for public schools for Rs6bn at a much higher price than the market rate by misappropriating Rs3bn," he alleged.

Sheikh lashed out at former Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani, saying that he was responsible for buying the desks at the high rates. The PTI leader also said that people who are in the Sindh government are living lavish lives at the expense of the poor.

The PTI had written a letter to the chief minister, highlighting that the provincial education department was allegedly purchasing dual desks for public schools at a 320% higher rate, he said, adding that the chief minister was urged to take action against the officers of the department concerned and the contractors for causing a loss of billions of rupees to the exchequer.

Sheikh requested the Supreme Court and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to conduct a large-scale investigation into the alleged corruption in the purchase of the school desks. He said the residents of Sindh were fed up with “the provincial government’s corruption and manipulations."

He said the Sindh government had decided to shut down 10,000 ghost schools across the province. Sheikh said the chief minister and provincial education minister should find out who built these ghost schools in the first place.

He lashed out at the Sindh government, saying that it was an enemy of quality education which is why it stands opposed to the implementation of the Single National Curriculum in the province.

A report carried by The News on Tuesday said the Transparency International Pakistan had approached the chief minister with the complaint that the education department was allegedly purchasing dual desks for public schools at a 320% higher rate, causing a loss of billions to the public kitty.

A dual desk is a desk attached to its own chair or bench and is often mistakenly referred to as a duel desk.

In its letter, addressed to Syed Murad Ali Shah, the TIP said the Sindh School Education & Literacy Department (SELD) had awarded four contracts on June 10, 2021, for the "supply & delivery of duel [dual] desks in public sector schools of Sindh" worth Rs5 billion at rates that varied between Rs23,985 per desk and Rs29,500 per desk, inclusive of all taxes.

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

"The lowest evaluated tender prices received from responsive bidders for these tenders varied between Rs5,700 and Rs 6,860 per desk, inclusive of all taxes. However, the School Education & Literacy Department for unknown reasons did not award the contracts."