Punjab govt official bribed by Microsoft for Rs1 bn deal: WSJ
ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government appears to be in no mood to find out the officer who allegedly toured Egypt along with his wife on Microsoft’s expense in December 2009 and in return awarded a $9 million (approximately Rs1 bn) contract to the US firm.
Recently the Wall Street Journal reported that the US government was probing the allegations that Microsoft allegedly bribed Punjab government officials to win a contract in 2009.The WSJ reported: “One tipster emailed Microsoft in January alleging executives at Microsoft’s Pakistan operations paid for a December 2009 trip for a Punjab provincial government official and his wife to win a three-year contract to supply the government with its Microsoft Office software, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The trip, which was allegedly booked by a travel consulting firm on behalf of Microsoft, included business class airfare and a stay at a luxurious hotel, the tipster alleged in the documents. According to the tipster, Microsoft won the partnership, worth roughly $9 million, three months later.”
The spokesman of the Punjab Government when contacted by The News expressed ignorance about the allegations published in the US newspaper. “I haven’t read the report therefore I cannot say what we will do”, the spokesman said.
However, the corruption watchdog, Transparency International, has requested Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif to order a probe into the allegations and try the officer under the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance.
Sources in the Punjab Government told The News that if the WSJ’s report is correct then the person bribed by the Microsoft must have been holding a key position in 2009 and had the authority to manipulate the IT tender in favour of the US company.
On the other hand, Transparency International has written to the Chief Minister Punjab that the Government of Punjab in 2009 in consultation with TI Pakistan had adopted Public Procurement Rules 2004, and Punjab Procurement Rules 2009 were notified on October 2, 2009, and it appears that the quoted Microsoft Office software was procured under these rules.
“In order to examine whether the procurement process was carried out as per rules, and the lowest evaluated responsive bidder was awarded the contract of the Microsoft Office Software Project, TI Pakistan requests the Chief Minister to kindly direct the concerned department to provide the following information to Transparency International Pakistan. These documents allowed under Punjab Procurement Rules, 2009, Rule No. 41, have been requested under the provision of Punjab Procurement Rules, 2009, Rule No. 47 which states “Public access and transparency: As soon as a contract has been awarded the procuring agency shall make all documents related to the evaluation of the bid and award of contract public”: 1. Approved PC-I. 2. NAB Contract Evaluation Form for this contract. 3. Completion cost of the Project in PC-V Form. In case the project is not completed, draft PC Form V with estimated completion cost of the Project be provided.”
The chief minister has also been requested to conduct an investigation into the allegation of favouring M/s Microsoft in award of contract, and Microsoft bribing a government officer. Such an act of taking bribe in the form of personal travel and hotel expenses, for self and wife on bidders’ account is defined as corruption and corrupt practices under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, Article 9. In case the investigation found the allegation as true, action may kindly be taken against all those who may be found responsible, under the rules and National Accountability Ordinance 1999, the letter said.