ISLAMABAD: Representatives of the Omni Group showed up before the Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday and complained that banks were not facilitating them properly in restructuring outstanding loans worth Rs30 billion that the group is seeking.
They claimed they were being “politically victimised”. Omni Group CEO Khawja Salman Younas along with his legal counsel told the committee that banks were shifting onus of responsibility onto the shoulders of the State Bank, which in turn was shifting it back to the commercial banks.
“Our accounts have been virtually blocked in the aftermath of classification and provisioning of loans done by the banks under the directives of the central bank,” he said. He further alleged that other groups in a similar situation had received more favourable treatment.
In response, State Bank Deputy Governor Jameel Ahmad assured the committee that the SBP is a national institution and did not discriminate in its dealings with any individual or business group.
The committee, which is headed by PPP Saleem Mandviwalla who served a brief stint as minister of state for finance in 2013, also heard complaints from representatives of Sindh Bank that their proposed merger with Summit Bank.
Sindh Bank CEO Bilal Sheikh said that the deadline of December 2017 has been missed for finalising the deal because the Sindh Cabinet did not approve it within the stipulated time frame.
The deputy governor SBP told the committee that there was no deadline over the merger of both the banks but if they want to proceed than the rules have to be followed.
“Both the parties would have to comply with required pre-requisites for moving ahead with merger,” he said. “This deal will be finalised once the approval from cabinet is received.”
The committee also took up issue of tax exemption worth Rs11bn to a Chinese company, constructing Multan-Sukkur Motorway.
Dr Muhammad Iqbal, Member Inland Revenues Policy, FBR replied that the ECC had approved the exemption for this Chinese construction company which was later ratified by the federal cabinet.
Senator Saud Majeed told the committee that it was unviable project in terms of BOT basis (Built, Operate and Transfer) because there was minimum traffic over this portion so the Chinese government involved its public sector company and brought down its cost to Rs296bn in re-tender as its earlier bidding stood at Rs400 billion.
Further queries over the project and exemption have been summoned from the Ministry of Communication.
Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2018
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