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ISLAMABAD: A panel of the Senate Thursday expressed serious concern over the procurement of furnace oil instead of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) at exorbitant rates and sought a detailed report within two weeks from concerned ministries. The panel also sought report about the closure of two local foundries.

The Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, chaired by Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad, discussed in detail the impact of furnace oil imports on oil refineries and other agenda items.

Deliberating upon the procurement of furnace oil instead of LNG at exorbitant rates, the committee directed the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Chairman Masroor Khan and the federal government were directed to also submit to the panel the reasons for not acquiring LNG when it was available in global markets at the rate of US$ 4.0 per unit as opposed to US$ 30.5 at this time.

The Committee demanded an inquiry related to the closure of two local foundries as a result of producing high cost energy through importing furnace oil at high rates.

Sufficient stock of furnace oil available: Hammad

The chairman committee, in his observation, stated that this was a “classic” example of unimaginative planning, adding that the process might be tainted with “ulterior motives.”

“A report on the fiasco should to be submitted to the committee within two weeks in this regard,” he directed.

While briefing the committee, the Ogra chairman stated that the refineries are carrying high furnace oil inventories and the Parco, ARL, Byco are operating at low throughput, while the PRL has shut down. However, the NRL refinery is on planned maintenance, he added.

About the procedure for the import of furnace oil, he said that as per the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) decision dated 20 June 2020, the private IPP’s have been allowed to import furnace oil through the PSO and other oil marketing companies (OMCs) after getting an NOC from the Power Division.

He said that firm demand for furnace oil for the power sector is conveyed by the Power Division to the Petroleum Division with the view to arrange the same. Keeping in view the demand, he added that the OMCs fulfill the demand through purchases from local refineries and imports.

He pointed out that the data for the period July to November, 2021, suggests there is a significant variation between the demand placed and the subsequent upliftment by the power plants. He added that upliftment was 36 percent lower than the demand during the said period, which led to ullage issues at the local refineries.

Giving the way forward, the Ogra chairman stated that in view of the aforementioned, it is suggested that the Power Division should play its role in ensuring that the furnace oil made available as per its demand is uplifted by the respective power plants.

He said that the power plants have to keep mandatory stock ranging from 15-30 days stock cover.

He further suggested that the refineries need to upgrade their plants from hydro-skimming to deep conversion technology, so that they are able to reduce their furnace oil production or convert it into lighter fuels.

He further stated that the Power Division has to ensure that the firm demand of furnace oil is forecasted with a variance of no more than five percent. The committee also took stringent notice of the issues related to the promotion criteria of the Central Selection Board (CSB). The Chairman Committee was of the view that these are issues of utmost importance that impact numerous lives and therefore, must be dealt with responsibly.

He stressed the need for revisiting redundant policies and to ensure that these are replaced with rules and strategies that benefit the people.

Discussing promotion criteria of the CSB, the committee instructed the Establishment Division to revisit the promotion criteria and Objective Assessment Form for the Central Selection Board. It also asserted that the process should be rationalised since it leaves much to the discretion of the Board members.

The Committee directed the Establishment Division to submit a report on the matter within four weeks. The committee also emphasised the need for revising the promotion policy, so that officers considered for promotion may be assessed on the basis of concrete evidence.

The Chairman Committee was of the view that the career of the officers should be judged impartially.

The committee instructed that the data regarding appeals of overlooked officers along with details of action taken should also be submitted to the panel within two weeks, along with information of pending ACRs, till the calendar year 2020.

The Establishment Division was further directed to ensure that reasons for non-promotion are conveyed to the candidates, so that to reduce grievance.

Taking up the matter pertaining to a public petition submitted by Malik Muhammad Khan, Chairman MK Pakistan, regarding transfer and possession of 172 acres of the PTDC land in Balochistan that was claimed to be purchased by the complainant, the committee was apprised by a representative of the Government of Balochistan that the matter is being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The committee directed that representative of the NAB Balochistan should be summoned in the next meeting for a complete briefing on the issue.

Senators Saadia Abbasi, Khalida Ateeb, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, and Talha Mehmood, and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan attended the meeting along with senior officers of the Establishment Division, the Government of Balochistan, the Ogra, and the PTDC.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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