Cabinet forms panel to probe recent petroleum shortage

Published July 29, 2020
Representatives from intelligence agencies, FBR, Ogra to be its members. — AFP/File
Representatives from intelligence agencies, FBR, Ogra to be its members. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday took several important decisions on matters ranging from the recent shortage of petroleum products to the collapsed drainage system of Karachi.

Presiding over the cabinet meeting at the PM House, the prime minister expressed annoyance over non-release of dues to the media houses which had led to the delay in payment of salaries to the staff of some TV channels and newspapers.

“In order to ascertain the cause of the recent shortage of petroleum products in the country, the cabinet has formed an inquiry commission,” Information Minister Shibli Faraz said at a press conference after the cabinet meeting.

Mr Faraz said the commission, headed by Federal Investigation Agency Director General Abu Bakar Khuda Baksh, would take action against those involved in the scam. Other members of the commission would be from the Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence, State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, Compe­tition Commission of Pakistan, Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue.

Representatives from intelligence agencies, FBR, Ogra to be its members; Sindh govt held responsible for Karachi citizens’ woes

The commission will have the power to hire services of market experts to look into the decisions taken during the monthly and quarterly product review meetings, check import orders and inspect stocks at various points of the supply chain.

In a related move, the petroleum division moved a summary reportedly to delay import of Euro-V (10ppm) diesel and petrol due to certain difficulties, including an estimated increase in prices.

“Earlier Euro-V standard was to be enforced from August 1 this year, but the cabinet decided to implement it from September 1,” Mr Faraz said.

According to media reports, a series of inquiry committees had been constituted to investigate the causes of the shortage, but most of them did not come up to the expectations of the prime minister, either because of conflict of interest, lack of evidence or non-cooperation by the stakeholders.

Talking to Dawn after the press conference, the information minister said he was not aware of any of these committees.

Naval Club

Responding to a question about the fate of recently established Naval Club in Islamabad, Mr Faraz said the issue would be dealt with by the departments concerned — Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Small Dams Organisation of the Punjab government.

“The cabinet is not the forum to approve or disapprove anything; it is a matter to be looked into by relevant authorities,” the minister said.

Karachi drainage system

The information minister spoke in detail about the flood-like situation which Karachi was currently gripped in after recent rains, and lashed out at the Pakistan Peoples Party for ruling Sindh for decades but doing nothing to improve the sewerage system in the metropolis.

Read: 'It could've been worse,' says Sindh govt as 2nd day of rain kills 3, turns Karachi roads into rivers

He said that after the 18th Constitution Amendment, the responsibility of upgrading the city’s drainage system was on the provincial government, but the Centre would do its best to address the problem.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed all Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNAs and MPAs from the province to fulfil the tasks to be assigned to them by the Centre. We cannot leave the people of Karachi at the mercy of the Sindh government,” he declared.

Mr Faraz said the recent rains had not only exposed the provincial government’s weakness in addressing the basic issues of people, but also substantiated PTI’s claims that the rulers of Sindh had ‘eaten up’ funds worth billions of rupees allocated for the uplift of cities, especially Karachi.

The minister said the federal government was not just expressing solidarity with the people of Karachi, but would also ask the Sindh government to take effective steps to provide relief to them at the earliest.

Talking about the opposition’s plan to hold a multiparty conference after Eidul Azha, the minister said the opposition leaders were not sincere with each other.

“A sweet tongue, but a hand ready to stab in the back,” the minister said while explaining the current friendly terms of the opposition leaders.

According to a statement issued by the PM Office, Prime Minister Khan said Karachi’s problems could not be solved until the representatives of the elected government became politically, administratively and financially independent according to the spirit of the Constitution.

He said the federal government wanted implementation of Article 140A in its true spirit and directed the attorney general to request the Supreme Court to hear the petition submitted before it under Article 140A, which deals with local governments.

Rangers ‘raid’ on KPC

In reply to a question about the recent raid on the Karachi Press Club by Rangers, the information minister said: “I have no idea why the Rangers did it. I cannot comment on it unless I know the background and reasons of the Rangers’ action.”

About the forthcoming Kashmir Day, Mr Faraz said the government had chalked out a series of programmes to express solidarity with the people of held Kashmir.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2020

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