LAHORE:The row of ownership of vehicles including specialized waste collection vehicles imported by Turkish contractors of Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) intensified as both parties are sticking to their claims.
Though honorable court directed the LWMC to return the vehicles to the Turkish contractors, the LWMC didn’t comply yet. LWMC’s official spokesperson Jamil Khawar said that the company has not received any court order yet adding that the company has also a right to file appeal against any court order.
Some two days back, teams of LWMC’s Turkish contractors reached the workshops at Valencia Town, Outfall Road and Children Hospital with the court order to take back the vehicles confiscated by LWMC but they left empty handed as no LWMC official was present there to deal with them and security guards present there didn’t allow them to enter.
Punjab’s Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan along with officers of LWMC also held a press conference on Thursday and accused Shehbaz Sharif’s government for causing huge loss to national exchequer in awarding this contract.
Reacting to this press conference, one Turkish company Albayrak released a press statement here Friday which states, “We listened to the press conference of Punjab Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan with great shock. Despite the court’s decision in our favour against the unlawful actions of the LWMC, she made accusations that misled the public and are completely false and libelous about our institution and our contract. We will share a detailed statement about the allegations with the public in a few days. We will initiate the legal process regarding the slanders she has made against our institution.”
On the other hand, the scribe collected several documents regarding the ownership of the confiscated vehicles from various government departments including FBR. According to a letter of FBR dated May 30, 2012 the Turkish contractors were given a special exemption of customs duty on import of machinery and special purpose vehicles.
As per the document, FBR imposed three conditions on Turkish contractors that they can’t sold or dispose of the imported vehicles for a period of 05 years without prior approval of the FBR and payment of customs duties and taxes leviable at the time of import.
The second condition was that the machinery, equipment and special purpose vehicles shall not be used except for the purpose for which the same have been imported and thirdly breach of above conditions shall be considered as a criminal offence under the Customs Act 1969 (IV of 1969).
Following FBR’s letter, LWMC wrote a letter dated July 30, 2012 to its Turkish contractors with a title ‘Supplement Agreement’, which contained the same clauses mentioned in the FBR’s letter including an extra clause that the Contractor (Turkish Company) will donate the said machinery, equipment and special purpose vehicles to the Client (LWMC) after the completion of the contract.
Again in July 2013, LWMC asked the Turkish contractors to get their vehicles registered with Motor Registration Authority, Excise and Taxation department otherwise the company will deduct the cost of registration from their payment invoices after which the Turkish contractors registered their vehicles under their names of their respective companies with the excise and taxation department.
Afzal Shah, a senior official of OzPak said that the LWMC’s letter clearly stated that the vehicles will be donated at the end of the contract. “Giving donation does not mean that LWMC has a right to confiscate the vehicles by force,” he added.
When asked, LWMC’s spokesperson Jamil Khwar about this letter and its clause related to donation of vehicles, he said that both the client and its contractors have many such letters. He said this was why the CEO LWMC constituted a two-member dispute resolution committee and asked the Turkish contractors to nominate their representatives to settle the disputes within one month.
Over a question that the ongoing row between LWMC and its Turkish contractors was causing a bad name for the country in international community, he accused that the Turkish companies were twisting the disputes with LWMC as disputes between the two brotherly countries.
Over another question that LWMC and government held press conference against them, he said the government and LWMC wanted to clear this that there was no rift between two brotherly countries and the companies were presenting wrong facts in media.
On the other hand, Afzal Shah demanded constitution of a high level dispute resolution committee because the present management of LWMC didn’t honour the decisions of the previous managements and even the decisions of boards regarding resolving dispute.
“The Turkish companies invested heavily in Pakistan and provided extra services, which were not mentioned in the agreement due to their cordial relation with the Pakistan as a brotherly country and in reward what LWMC did with us” he said and added that if LWMC wanted to talk then first they should return the vehicles and possession of workshops back. “They are just gaining time,” he said and warned that the Turkish companies will move a contempt of court against the LWMC besides approaching all the other legal forums.