The National Highway Authority (NHA) has come under review by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concerning an advanced payment of Rs. 15 billion made to contractors. This prepayment was reportedly for nine separate projects, as per audit officials.
The allegation made by the audit officials suggested that the hefty amount was awarded to the contractors intentionally for financial benefit. However, an NHA representative refuted the claim, explaining that the money was issued as a provisional advance, backed by a bank guarantee.
Further, the National Highway Authority official maintained that the organization adhered to the guidelines set out by the project’s sponsor, the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In defense of the NHA, the secretary of communications affirmed that the advance payment did not result in any financial detriment to the government.
Following the discussion, the PAC absolved the audit section and instructed the NHA to abide by the rules in the future.
This incident isn’t the first time that the NHA’s fund allocation methods have raised eyebrows. Earlier in 2023, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Communications challenged the NHA over an advance payment of Rs. 1 billion for the Lodhran-Multan segment of N-5.
Under the temporary chairmanship of Mir Khan Muhammad Jamali, the Committee reviewed the NHA’s questionable procurement for the Lodhran-Multan section of NHA N-5.
The NHA’s responses left the Committee unsatisfied, leading to further scrutiny of the project’s quality. The continuous involvement of the National Highway Authority in financial irregularities amplifies the need for improved governance and transparency in its operations.