ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has called a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Friday to take up a host of outstanding issues creating discontent among provincial governments.
This will be the first meeting of the CCI after Mr Abbasi replaced Finance Minister Ishaq Dar with Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal as a member of the CCI a few days ago.
The meeting will consider reports of the Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee (IPCC) and sub-committees of the CCI.
To be presided over by the prime minister, the meeting will be attended by provincial chief ministers and three federal ministers — Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi from Sindh and Riaz Pirzada and Ahsan Iqbal from Punjab — as CCI members besides senior officials of federal ministries and provinces.
The CCI will take up a summary for the establishment of a fiscal coordination committee, post-devolution status of the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution, Workers Welfare Fund, National Water Policy, LNG Policy, award of petroleum rights to federal and provincial holding companies without competitive bidding and implementation of petroleum policy under which the government has not offered a single exploration block for bidding over the past 60 months or so.
The CCI is likely to consider a majority decision of IPCC to give rights over all future oil and gas findings to respective producer provinces so that Article 158 of the Constitution is implemented in its true spirit.
The prime minister will also try to convince the four provincial chief ministers to drop their objections to gas sector reforms to facilitate unbundling of gas utilities.
The IPCC with a majority vote from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and IPC minister Riaz Pirzada had concluded recently that Article 158 of the Constitution should be implemented in its true spirit by giving priority of use to producer provinces of gas and oil reserves.
Article 158 allows precedence to a province over other parts of the country in meeting its requirements from a natural gas well-head if it is situated in its territory.
The IPCC had also directed the government entities to formulate a mechanism within three weeks for sharing real-time production of oil, gas and electricity with the provinces and ensure timely payment of net hydel profit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
The power and petroleum divisions of the ministry of energy had declined to oblige, saying that real-time data was not possible even though these were displayed on television screens in the two divisions until recently.
The meeting will also discuss provincial governments’ concerns over the LNG import policy.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2017