ISLAMABAD: Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that he had instructed the petroleum ministry and the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited to refer to an investigation agency cases relating to 15 marketing companies which had been given LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) quota in a non-transparent manner in 2004.
“I have written a letter to the petroleum ministry as well as the OGDCL to initiate cases against these companies,” said Mr Asif who as an opposition member had challenged in the apex court the grant of LPG extraction plant licence to Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL) in a non-transparent manner in 2003.
“There is no need to pursue the cases of these companies in the Supreme Court when the OGDCL has been asked to refer the matter to the investigation agency,” the minister explained before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Explaining the government’s stance, he said that if the apex court held the JJVL contract illegal these companies would automatically lose the quota.
The companies which will face the inquiry possibly by the FIA are: Aftab Traders, Agha Gas, Balochistan Minerals, Bolan Gas, Cress LPG, Gas Man, Links International, Muhammadi Gas, Noor LPG, Petroleum Gas, Petrosin Gas, Power Gas, Pro Gas, Ravi Gas and Synergy Gas.
The court said it would provide an opportunity to 28 other companies also mentioned in Khawaja Asif’s petition to present their points of view. They were given LPG quota between 2004 and 2008.
According to the petition, the biggest beneficiary of the quota is Iqbal Z. Ahmad, a businessman who owns Lub Gas and Mehran Gas. Similarly, Awami Gas and Wyne Gas are believed to be owned by former NAB chairmen retired Lt Gen Khalid Maqbool and retired Lt Gen Munir Hafeez. The list includes Power Gas owned by family members of former Sindh governor retired Lt Gen Moinuddin Haider and Sam Gas owned by Bushra Aitzaz Ahsan.
Khawaja Asif alleged in his petition that the LPG extraction contract had been awarded to the JJVL at the behest of former president Pervez Musharraf in 2003. It caused huge losses to the national exchequer.
The petition alleged that the allocation of LPG quotas had been misused by successive governments for 30 years only to oblige certain individuals or companies, instead of auctioning them in a transparent manner.
It requested the court to review the award of the contract given to the JJVL, take action against individuals and officers responsible for the wrongful exercise of granting licences and order recovery of the amount.
The petition also requested the court to review the perpetual policy of awarding LPG quota without open bidding.