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ISLAMABAD: The federal government in Senate on Friday dismissed as untrue the reports that the retirement age of the government employees was being reduced from 60 to 55 years and monthly pension for retired government employees was being abolished.

In the Senate session presided over by Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said there is no truth to reports that the retirement age of government employees is being reduced from 60 to 55 years.

Responding to a calling attention notice jointly moved by Rehman Malik from Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Mir Kabeer Shahi from National Party (NP), the minister said "We should avoid circulating the rumours and hearsay without confirming the authenticity of any news.

I have checked with the Cabinet Division and Finance Division both of them have responded that neither is there any proposal under consideration to reduce the retirement age of government employees nor the pension the retired government employees are entitled to, is being abolished."

The minister said the retirement age of government employees was fixed at 60 years through an act of Parliament and reducing this age limit can only be done through legislation which is not under consideration.

"We are introducing the civil services reforms to facilitate the civil servants and other government employees to improve their efficiency, not to deprive them of the facilities they are entitled to," the minister said.

Responding to questions regarding China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during question hour in Senate, Ali Muhammad Khan denied that CPEC was being rolled back. "This is our key strategic project. No one can even think of doing away with CPEC regardless of any amount of foreign pressure against CPEC," he said adding that Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) were proposed to be established under CPEC. The minister proposed an open debate on CPEC in Senate.

Federal Minister for Power Division Omar Ayub Khan said the federal government is providing 290 Million Cubic Feet per Day (MMCFD) against 190 MMCFD quota besides provision of 80 per cent Residual Fuel Oil (RFO) of total production to K-Electric to curtail power load shedding in Karachi.

Responding to questions during question hour in Senate, the minister said there is no shortfall of electricity as sufficient generation is available to meet demand of electricity in the country.

However, load management is being done by distribution companies (DISCOS) on the basis of aggregate technical and commercial losses recorded on each feeder in compliance to directives of the federal cabinet.

He said over 23,000 MW electricity is being transmitted through DISCOs. Some 80 per cent feeders have been cleared from power pilferage and efforts were being made to clear remaining 20 per cent feeders, he added.

The minister said the proposal to completely hand over Quetta Electric Supply Company to Balochistan government is under consideration.

Khan said the Arbitral Tribunal of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) issued an award against Pakistan and in favour of Tethyan Copper Company Limited (TCC) in the Reko-Diq Case for an amount of $ 4.087 billion as compensation along with legal costs and interest (to the sum of $ 5.912 billion).

Pakistan has submitted an application for Annulment of this Award and the ICSID Secretariat has provisionally stayed the enforcement of the Award while registering this application on 18 November 2019, he added.

"Since the legal recourse against the ICSID Arbitral Tribunal's Award and ICC proceedings were yet to follow and being a sensitive issue, open/public discussion on the case does not seem appropriate/advisable," he added.

He said TCC had initiated enforcement proceedings in several jurisdictions, however, as the Award stands suspended because of the provisional stay on its enforcement, the risk of Pakistan's vulnerable assets abroad has been safeguarded.

Speaking on the floor of the House, senior PPP leader and former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani said some unidentified person(s) were approaching the deputy commissioners of different districts in Sindh including Karachi West, Larkana, Sukkur and Mirpur Khas, impersonating themselves as him (Raza Rabbani) and instructing the district administration officials to settle a land related matter.

Rabbani said he brought the matter into the notice of chairman Senate who wrote a letter to director general Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to trace the impersonators but no action has been taken so far. One cell phone number has been used to make all the fake calls by impersonators, Rabbani said.

Meanwhile, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Rehman Malik presented reports of the committee regarding related bills that were reviewed by the committee.

They included The Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation Bill, 2020, The Islamabad Prevention of Beggary Bill, 2020, The Islamabad Consumers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 202 and The Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The Senate would meet again on Monday.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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