ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Tuesday passed the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) amendment bill to recover about Rs12 billion arrears from CNG stations under a negotiated settlement, amid opposition from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and allegation of a behind-the-scenes dubious deal that brought bounties for a senator.
The PTI’s parliamentary leader claimed that the CNG (compressed natural gas) station owners had collected Rs62bn from consumers and now they were paying only Rs12bn to the government. “Are we working for some lobbyist?” he asked.
Senator Mohsin Aziz of the PTI was of the view that the bill should be sent to a committee for investigation.
Minister of State for Finance Rana Mohammad Afzal said hundreds of cases had been filed by the CNG station owners in courts where stays had been granted against GIDC. He said that under an agreement reached with them, they had agreed to pay Rs12bn on top of Rs19bn arrears already paid.
PTI demands probe into deal with CNG station owners
“I am not aware of any corruption. If you think so, refer the matter to NAB,” he said.
The senators voted for and against the bill by rising from their seats by turns and the motion was carried by 35 votes against 16. The PTI, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Jamaat-i-Islami opposed the bill, while the Pakistan Peoples Party voted in favour of the bill.
An official told Dawn that under the deal, the CNG station owners had been given Rs7bn waiver on the condition that they would deposit Rs12bn in two installments within three months after the GIDC (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was passed. He said CNG stations were collecting GIDC from consumers under the GIDC Act 2015 through sale price of CNG notified by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), but were not passing on the amount to the federal government on account of court stay orders.
The Senate also passed a bill seeking to prevent and combat human trafficking, specially women and children.
Azam Swati of the PTI raised the issue of a 150 per cent increase in charges by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for thumb verification of voters before elections.
A Jamaat-i-Islami senator raised the issue of allowing a US diplomat involved in a fatal accident to leave the country, although a court had ordered placement of his name on the Exit Control List.
Acting Senate Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla said the foreign secretary would be asked on Wednesday to explain the government’s position.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018