SC summons report on transparency in LNG contracts, PSO appointments

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday while hearing a petition regarding an increase in gas and petroleum prices summoned a report on appointments made in Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and transparency in LNG contracts.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard a petition regarding increase in the price of gas and petroleum products following the imposition of taxes.

Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan appeared before the bench after being summoned earlier today.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) special prosecutor Akbar Tarar and Pakistan State Oil’s (PSO) counsel, Mehmood Mirza, also appeared before the court.

As the hearing began, PSO’s counsel submitted a report regarding prices of petroleum products before the bench and said the prices are high owing to management and sales affairs.

To this, the chief justice remarked, “There was an unjust increase in the prices of petroleum products. We will refer this matter to NAB.”

Justice Nisar then said, “If Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan is in town call him.”

When the chief justice questioned “where the chief executive officer is who draws Rs3.7 million?”, the PSO counsel responded he has retired.

NAB should go after such cases and leave tehsildars: CJP

The NAB special prosecutor then informed court, “During the previous government’s term, a PSO managing director was appointed to benefit one person.”

To this, Justice Nisar remarked, “Call Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and ask him why this happened.”

“NAB should go after such cases and leave tehsildars. The nation should know what has happened with them,” he said.

Justice Nisar then asked the NAB special prosecutor about Ahad Cheema, to which Tarar said, “We have prepared cases.”

The chief justice also expressed anger at PSO for hiring a private lawyer and asked Mirza how much fee he is being paid to which the lawyer responded that he would be paid Rs1.5 million.

“State intuitions are sinking in debt but they hire private counsels, PSO should have asked the attorney general to represent it,” Justice Nisar then remarked.

Directing a report to be submitted on appointments in PSO and transparency in LNG contracts, the court asked the attorney general to brief them in a week’s time and adjourned the hearing till October 10.

Briefing on petroleum prices

Chartered accountant Mukhtar Kazmi briefed the court on prices of petroleum products and said Rs61 is the import price on which an additional Rs1.32 per litre is charged.

“The additional charge includes freight and insurance charges. PSO is abiding by PEPRA rules by charging Rs1.32 per litre,” he added.

Further, Kazmi said, “Rs10.17 is the domestic cost which includes a freight charges of Rs3 to ensure petrol prices are uniform across the country.”

“Rs3.47 is the dealer commission which is determined by the government while Rs27 are paid in taxes which include a fixed custom duty and GST per liter is determined by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).”

When the chief justice asked how the government determines the tax rates, the attorney general said, “Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) gives recommendations which are then approved by the federal cabinet.”

Justice Nisar then questioned, “If PSO does not determine the prices then why was the former MD paid a salary of Rs3.7 million?”

Justice Ijazul Ahsan then added, “Most general managers are drawing millions in salaries.”

The chief justice then asked how many cars top PSO employees are given. “All of them must have a 4x4 and maybe even bulletproof vehicles.”

Stating that austerity measures should be taken, Justice Nisar said, “Call the former MD to explain why non-developmental expenditure was increased.”