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February 2, 2018

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12 federal secretaries to attend NJPC meeting

ISLAMABAD: Secretaries and heads of 12 federal ministries and other entities have been invited to attend the judiciary’s top policymaking body -- the National Judicial Policymaking Committee -- on Saturday to explain what mechanism the government has evolved for dispute resolution regarding CPEC projects worth billions of dollars.

The News has been informed that the NJPC meeting will be chaired by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar to exclusively discuss the CPEC project and its dispute resolution mechanism to avoid international disputes as are being faced by Pakistan in Reko Diq as well as Rental Power Plants (RPPs) cases.

The secretaries of the ministries/divisions of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Law and Justice, Planning and Development, Board of Investment, Railways, Communication, Maritime Affairs, Power and Petroleum, FBR chairman and CPEC project director have been invited to attend the NJPC meeting.

The sources said that Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and other members of the NJPC would like to know what the government has done for the resolution of possible disputes in the CPEC projects. It is said that since there are several CPEC projects worth billions of dollars involving foreign companies mostly Chinese, there is a need to have a well-thought-out dispute resolution mechanism to avoid the situation as is being faced by the government in Reko Diq and RPP cases.

In Reko Diq and RPP cases, the foreign companies after the revocation of their contracts have taken the government of Pakistan to international arbitration tribunals/courts amid reports that Pakistan may face huge fines.

In both the projects, Pakistan has lost its case. Interestingly both the Reko Diq and RPP contracts were cancelled during the last PPP regime following the orders of the Supreme Court. Decisions regarding the volume of fines to be paid by Pakistan, are still awaited.

In the Reko Diq case, the arbitration claim was submitted in 2012 to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) by the Tethyan Copper Company Pty Ltd (TCC), a joint venture between Antofagasta and Canada's Barrick Gold Corporation.

The ICSID tribunal has already rejected Pakistan's defence against liability and confirmed that Pakistan had violated several provisions of its bilateral investment treaty with Australia, where TCC is incorporated. The TCC claims over $9 billion from Pakistan.

In RPP case, according to media reports, the ICSID last year awarded $700 million to Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim AS, a Turkish company that constructs and operates rental power plants, in a damages suit it had brought against Pakistan. However, it is not confirmed how much the government of Pakistan will have to pay to the Turkish company for revoking its contract.

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