Pak govt. sacks state-owned gas pipeline firm officials for questioning transparency

Islamabad, Aug.19 : The Pakistan government on Friday sacked the chairman and an independent member of the board of directors (BoD) of the state-owned Interstate Gas Systems (Private) Ltd (ISGS) that is executing USD 15 billion dollars worth of gas pipeline projects.

The Dawn quoted sources, as saying that the Ministry of Petroleum removed Chairman Nawabzada Shahzad A.

Khan and member Zubair Motiwala from the nine-member board of ISGS a day after they put on record in writing what they described as the fudging of proceedings and decisions of the board meetings regarding critical pipeline projects and budgets.

They had reportedly raised questions of economic feasibility, transparency and record tampering. The size of the board was reduced through a notification to seven comprising officials of the ministry and its subordinate companies.

When asked if the two gentlemen were removed for raising questions over transparency and fudging of record of the board meetings, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said: "Not that I know of." The ISGS only had an acting chairman for the last few meetings as the board was to be reconstituted due to the expiry of the term of several members, he added.

He declined to comment on issues of transparency and record tampering, saying the ISGS managing director should be contacted to seek comments on the issues.

Khan said he had written the letter as a "whistle blower for the people at the helm of affairs to (ask them to) take appropriate action to restrain those responsible from plundering the state exchequer".

He said that the structure of USD 4.7 billion gas pipeline projects - 850km Gwadar-Nawabshah and 710km Karachi-Lahore - had been designed on foreign loans against sovereign guarantees.

It will mean the public will pay USD 20.3bn in the next 20 years though the gas supply will be only 600 million cubic feet per day - half of the promised 1200mmcfd.

He said that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project inaugurated in early 2013 had been shelved by the ministry without knowledge or consent of the ISGS board.

"It was reshaped into Gwadar-Nawabshah project without a technical and financial feasibility study. The consultant hired for the Iran-Pakistan project was also given works of a liquefied natural gas terminal and the Gwadar-Nawabshah pipeline without authorisation of the board and in violation of procurement rules as highlighted by independent lawyer Khalid Anwar." Khan said that the project had been taken in hand in haste and without proper evaluation and without bidding.

He argued that in the absence of Iran-Pakistan project, there was no justification for the Gwadar-Nawabshah pipeline because a much cheaper option could have been available at Karachi.

(ANI with inputs).

Source: ANI