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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has recovered only Rs7 billion Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) out of the total Rs459 billion recoverable due to the delay in hiring a legal team for the pursuance of cases in various courts, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was apprised Tuesday.

Petroleum Secretary Ali Raza Bhutta informed the committee that Rs452 billion is recoverable from various sectors of the economy in line with the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2020 as most of the consumers filed cases and obtained stay orders against the recovery.

The committee was further informed that since the establishment of a special committee with the federal minister for law and justice as the convener on June 24, 2022, the matter to contest the GIDC cases in the courts is pending.

Earlier, the matter for hiring of lawyers was taken up with the Law Division.

However, the proposal of the Petroleum Division was declined by the Attorney General of Pakistan’s Office.

The Petroleum Division reported that since the promulgation of the GIDC Act 2015, the total outstanding amount on account of GIDC is Rs452 billion on June 30, 2022. Out of which an amount of Rs368 billion is sub-judice, amount of Rs16.7 billion is outstanding due to circular debt, and the remaining amount of Rs67 billion is under recovery by the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC).

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Noor Alam Khan chaired the meeting of the committee to examine the Audit Report on the Accounts of the Petroleum Division and the OGRA 2019-20. He directed the Managing directors (MDs) of the gas companies to recover the arrears and fix the responsibility of officials of the companies delaying in recovery.

Managing Director SNGPL said that Rs60 billion is recoverable from consumers on the company gas system. Around Rs49 billion is recoverable from 575 consumers still using the company’s gas and Rs11.2 billion from around 2,500 gas consumers whose connections were disconnected. The major defaulter was the CNG sector.

The MD SSGC said that Rs2 billion is recoverable from the CNG sector in Sindh and other areas and the rest is pending in 438 court cases.

Responding to a question on the availability of gas during the coming winter season, the secretary said that Qatar government agreed with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to allow additional RLNG under existing long-term agreements between the two countries as spot purchase is very expensive.

He further explained that the government is supplementing the imported gas to meet the growing demand as indigenous gas is depleting at 10 percent each year. “This year due to Ukraine-Russia war, the EU countries have signed a contract of LNG in advance on higher price for winter”, he said.

The SNGPL is importing LPG since the process is easier to cater to the RLNG demand. “The prime minister has also issued directives to finalise the policy for installation of LPG Air Mix Plants at remote and new localities,” he added. The PAC also issued directives to the Petroleum Division and the OGRA for the resolution of Rs52 billion against M/s Byco and Rs438 million against M/s Hascol, otherwise, the chairman has the authority to refer cases to the investigating agencies for recoveries.

The chairman committee further directed the OGRA chairman to allow the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) access to the record for audit purposes and also directed the Secretary Cabinet to appear before the committee after the chairman OGRA cited Cabinet decision that regulatory authority is exempted from audit under OGRA Ordinance 2002.

He further asked the Secretary Petroleum to provide details of dual nationals working in public sector oil and gas companies.

In an audit para of irregular award of contracts without approval of the Board of Management of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) of Rs56 billion highlighted during audit of PSO for financial year 2014-17, the NAB representative explained that a NAB reference has been filed in Accountability Court-I Karachi.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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