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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has, reportedly quizzed Petroleum Division and Finance Division for delay in issuance of letters to new LNG terminals and not projecting a robust economic performance, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

On October 13, 2020 as the cabinet meeting began Prime Minister enquired about the reasons for delay in letters to be issued by Petroleum Division to the operators of the two new LNG terminals approved by the Cabinet for setting up at Port Qasim, the sources added.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Division, Nadeem Babar noted that both the companies had been asked to intimate their year-wise capacity requirements but their replies were still awaited. While highlighting the pending issue of Right of Way (RoW) by the Sindh government, the Cabinet was apprised that Secretary Energy, Sindh, had given the go ahead in writing, a formal approval of which would be given by the Sindh Cabinet in its upcoming meeting. It was assured that as soon as the capacity requirements were received from the operators, the requisite letters would be issued.

According to sources, concern over rumours on the matter being deliberately delayed at the behest of a major player in the energy sector, was also expressed. Petroleum Division categorically rejected the insinuation and vowed that transparency in the entire process. It was highlighted that consequent upon approval of the Cabinet for the two new LNG terminals, certain timelines were to be adhered to, and any delay in implementation should have been brought to the knowledge of the Cabinet. Petroleum Division acknowledged the oversight.

The Prime Minister also enquired about Wajid Rana's refusal to accept the position of Chairman, Pay and Pension Commission, which would further delay the resolution of the looming crisis posed by the rise in budgeted pensions and emphasized the need to fast-track the recommendations on this critical Issue. Finance Division confirmed that Wajid Rana had declined to accept the responsibility and tendered resignation but an alternate candidate for the post of Chairman, Pay and Pension Commission, had already been found. The Prime Minister reiterated the criticality of the pension issue and the need to work under definite timelines.

Taking note of the flaccid projection of government's economic achievements on the media, the Prime Minister observed that false claims by his detractors often go un-responded during talk shows, adding to misperceptions about government's economic performance. He directed the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue and the Economic Team to increase their presence on the media so that negative propaganda could be effectively countered and the true picture reaches the public.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020