A Lebanese company named Khatib & Alami, that has been operating in Afghanistan for two years, has been given seven contracts worth millions of dollars without following the proper procurement process, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.
According to Pajhwok, the brother of First Lady Rula Ghani, reportedly encouraged the company to work in Afghanistan.
Pajhwok reported that Kabul municipality gave the company four contracts - based on a decision by the National Procurement Authority (NPA) – while the urban development ministry also gave them contracts to the value of $16 million USD.
According to Pajhwok, none of the contracts, which were reportedly construction and design related, were put out to tender.
“We do not have much money and the Khatib & Alami Company said they would be able to complete the projects cheaper than other companies. So we chose Khatib & Alami,” Nilofar Langar, urban development ministry spokesperson told TOLOnews.
Technical deputy minister of public works ministry, Ahmad Wali Sherzai, also told TOLOnews he had met Rula Ghani’s brother, Reyaz Saada, at the American University of Beirut (AUB) where they become friends.
According to Sherzai, he and Saada encouraged Khatib & Alami to come to Afghanistan, Pajhwok reported.
Sherzai said Saada is not an employee of the company, but he has good relationships with the company’s officials.
“This (awarding of contracts) is due to their personal relationships, but the public works ministry is not involved (in giving the contracts),” Sherzai told TOLOnews.
The company was introduced to the Kabul municipality last year by the National Procurement Authority when it had not received its business license and the municipality was told to give the Kart-e-Sakhi street design project to the company without putting it out to tender, Pajhwok reported.
The National Procurement Authority (NPA) meanwhile accepts that they had introduced the company to Kabul municipality and the urban development ministry.
“The commission (NPA) after approving the two projects from Kabul municipality and urban development ministry, asked the two departments to use the professionalism, expertise and good human resources of Khatib & Alami,” Bakhtyar Najman, an anti-corruption specialist from the NPA said.
According to Pajhwok, some sources have reported that three other contracts are expected to be given to Khatib & Alami without being put out to tender.