Wednesday, June 5, 2019

FCAN announces protest programmes against strict construction regulation

The Federation of Contractors’ Associations of Nepal (FCAN) is halting all construction works from July 17, if the government does not amend some of the provisions included in the recently passed Public Procurement Regulation (sixth amendment).
Organising a national convention of contractors from across the country in Kathmandu today, chairman of FCAN Ravi Singh also announced a series of protests programmes like returning the contract licence to the government and wearing black armband, until government hears them right.
The amended Public Procurement Regulation has a provision that states that a contract will not be extended for more than half of its original deadline to ensure that projects that are on the verge of completion would not be affected by the regulation, according to the government officials.
Likewise, the contractors have also protested other provisions of the amended regulation that restricts certain individuals from bidding projects. The provision states that any bidder – firm or individual – that faces a corruption case in court, according to the law, is barred from bidding for projects either as an individual or in the form of a joint venture unless the court gives a clean chit.
The contractors today also organised a rally in Kathmandu demanding changes in the regulation before a ‘special gathering’ that has agreed to protest and bring all the construction works to a standstill after July 17, if the government does not give them an ear.
Several development projects are facing time and cost overruns due to contractors’ ignorance and the government’s failure to clear the site and public protests, but the contractors have critisised the tough amendment that the government has introduced to force contractors to complete their work on time, with warning of contract termination.
Likewise, the government officials also said that the new provisions will be good for new projects, it could not be practical for the old ones, particularly those ones which are facing time overrun due to the failure of the government agencies themselves.
According to the government officials themselves, the provision of not extending the deadline – irrespective of who is responsible for the delay – could lead to the termination of many contracts.
According to a study by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), some 1,848 projects worth Rs 118 billion under seven ministries are incomplete and past their deadlines.
According to secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Devendra Karki, “The provisions of the newly amended regulation is all right for the projects to be awarded in the future but the concern is about how to complete projects whose deadline has been extended beyond 50 per cent of original deadline due to genuine reasons like the government officials failing to clear site, public preventing the contractors to work and utility facilities not being cleared to start work.”
But there is also a risk that even projects that are over 90 per cent complete but have not completed as per deadline extension provision in new regulation would face contract termination as these projects will be delayed further for inviting fresh tender. “It will also increase the cost of the project because tender should be based on new price range,” said a higher government official.
The government officials and contractors both agree on the implementing this provision for the new projects. “The government should at least let the contractors finish the work they have started,” said the FCAN.
According to the amended regulation, the government agency should not call tender until the site is cleared, the budget is enough for providing compensation for acquired land and a report about Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been approved, which FCAN also opines is right.

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