ISLAMABAD: Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi has expanded the panel which will probe the agreement of Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT) established at Port Qasim, well informed sources told Business Recorder.
On October 4, 2021, Chairman Cabinet Committee on Transport and Logistics (CCoTL) observed that the latter constituted a Committee comprising Minister for Railways (Convener) and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Khalid Mansoor to conduct an inquiry on granting exclusivity rights of coal handling to the PITB and look into the transparency, as well as, legality of the contract and submit a report to the CCoTL within two weeks.
Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi urged the committee members to expedite the task given to them as early as possible.
After discussion, the CCoTL directed that Secretary Railways, Secretary Maritime Affairs, Secretary Law & Justice Division and Chairman Port Qasim Authority (PQA) shall be included as members of the committee earlier constituted on September 1, 2021. The Committee shall expedite its report with viable recommendations for consideration of the CCoTL.
When contacted, a spokesperson of the PIBT said that the terminal is strictly adhering to the Implementation Agreement (IA) it signed with the PQA, which was thoroughly vetted by the regulator, the erstwhile Ministry of Ports and Shipping (now Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet.
He added that PIBTL is a state-of-the-art mechanized premiere bulk cargo terminal, which is one of its kind in Pakistan, handling commercial coal imports as per best international standards, and paying a royalty of Rs.3.7 billion per annum to Port Qasim Authority.
The PIBTL is a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) national infrastructure project with an investment of over 300 million US dollars. The terminal has a capacity of handling 12 million tons of coal annually and last year it has handled just over 10-million-ton coal.
The loan administrator of project was OPEC Fund whereas co-financiers were the Bank of Punjab, sponsor Equinity, International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of World Bank, NIB Bank Ltd, JS Bank Ltd, Askari Bank Ltd, Sindh Bank Ltd, Faysal Bank Ltd, Al Baraka Bank, Mezzan Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank.
The sources said, a meeting of Federal Cabinet, which met on October 12, 2021, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired, has ratified the decision of CCoTL with respect to expansion of probe committee.
Insiders claim that some private-sector people who have close ties with the Minister, misinformed him about the project’s affairs.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021