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NAB launches probe into SLIC tower delays.

ISLAMABAD -- With the under-construction State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (SLIC) building expected to finish along the same time a life insurance policy matures, the delays have caught the eye of the apex anti-corruption watchdog in the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Monday took notice of the 22-year delay in completing the of State Life Tower in the federal capital and has ordered a probe into the matter.

He directed the bureau to probe reports of alleged corruption, misuse of authority and loss of millions of rupees of public money.

In a statement issued on Monday, the NAB chief directed officials to affix responsibility for the delays in completing the 22-storey building owned by the State Life Insurance Company (SLIC).

Moreover, he asked to determine the reasons behind the frequent change of SLIC chairmen so that those responsible for squandering public money could be identified and action is taken against them as per law.

'The delay of over 22 years is a classic example of ill planning and bad governance,' the NAB chief said, as he directed to ensure that people's hard earned money invested in SLIC and policy holders' money should be invested in profitable schemes.

In a recent Senate panel meeting, SLIC Chairman Shoaib Mir said the tower, standing between NICL building and the Saudi-Pak Tower on Islamabad's Jinnah Avenue, will be completed by the end of 2018.

The SLIC had planned its new building in the federal capital back in 1996. Spread over an area of 298,600 square feet, it was initially estimated to cost around Rs1.35 billion to construct the 22-storey building.

However, 22 years on, the corporation had only built 19 of the floors. The years of delay means that its cost has shot up to Rs1.54 billion.

During the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce, senior SLIC officials explained that plot demarcation issues with the Capital Development Authority (CDA), high water table at the site, and design revisions following the 2005 earthquake were some of the reasons for the delays in completing work on the building.

Civil works in the building were finalised by the contractor on December 31 last year, while builders expect boiler and ventilation fans' for the building to be delivered in March 2018.

Another hurdle in completing the building are the elevators in the building. The contractor had managed to import the lifts but when they checked, they realized that they had ordered geared lifts instead of the gearless ones required for the project. The corporation has yet to sort out this issue too.

However, the SLIC hopes to recuperate some of the cost incurred on the building by renting it out. Mir told the Senate panel that the corporation had already started planning its marketing strategy to rent out portions of the building, adding that they were targeting international corporations as the potential tenants.

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Publication:The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jan 23, 2018
Words:542
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