Over budget

Officials are to luanch a probe into the accounts surrounding the budget for the long-awaited light rail system The initial government estimates for the building of the crucial  light railway transport system have gone over the original budget. The lowest price in bids to supply the system and materials for the first phase of the project exceeds the initial budget by 30 percent. Officials from the Transport Infrastructure Bureau (GDI) say they will investigate what happened with the accounting of three companies vying for the tender. Bid discrepancies The lowest bid came in at MOP4.567 billion and was presented by the BT CRBC LRT consortium, established between the Canadian group Bombardier and the China Road and Bridge Corporation. The joint venture’s bid was only accepted after it finally presented an updated certificate of its commercial registration. Siemens and the state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corp consortium made the highest bid, MOP6.281 billion. In the middle was Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, whose bid was MOP4.688 billion. The discrepancy between the figures submitted by the bidders and the initial government budget has already led the GTI to take a stand. GTI coordinator Lei Chan Tong said the process will be monitored by the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) after news reports of an alleged case of access to privileged information. “The GTI will make every effort to coordinate the various works with the CCAC and raise the integrity awareness of both its own employees and the workers of adjudicating companies,” said a GTI statement. Lei said that the bureau hás also carried out an update of the investment and construction for the first phase of LRT from the middle of last year to the present, which took into account the global economic situation. He said bidders will have to take on the risk of future price fluctuations which will be “more than five percent”. No timetable for lightrail There is still no starting construction date for the Macau Light Rapid Transit System (LRT), the government says. Only after the bidding for “supply of rolling stock and systems” is completed will the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) lay down a schedule. The project has suffered major delays, as it was originally expected to start in 2008. Government to improve internal checks Audit Commissioner Ho Veng On says audit trails on public projects are to be introduced as early as next year. They will track different phases of big projects instead of just after they are completed. “An audit trail aims to block loopholes in a timely manner and to avoid wasting resources and public resources when we can still remedy the problems,” Ho explained. He refused to say if the light railway project will be covered by this system.