Wednesday December 06, 2023

Dar’s ‘darlings’ shown the door

October 05, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday announced that the government had decided to remove the officials ‘illegally’ appointed by former finance minister Ishaq Dar from service.

He stated this during a news briefing after meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Thursday. Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar was also present on the occasion.

Fawad Chaudhry said Chairman National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Saeed Ahmad, President Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) Syed Talat Mahmood, President First Woman Bank Ms Tahira Raza and President SME Bank Ihsanullah Khan have been terminated. Besides, in regulatory bodies, two deputy governors of the State Bank i.e. Jameel Ahmad and Shamsul Hassan have been also removed from their seats. Chairperson of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) Ms Vadiyya Khalil and two members of the CCP including Dr Muhammad Saleem and Shahzad Ansar have also been terminated. The minister further said that only the federal cabinet can make appointments in ministries.

The minister said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to set up a state-of-the-art oil refinery in Gwadar and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be signed when the Saudi energy minister would visit Pakistan at the end of this month or beginning of the next month. He said the MoU for the refinery has been drafted and the cabinet has approved it for further processing. Pakistan would sign this government-to-government agreement; however, the refinery cost and capacity have not yet been finalised yet.

To materialise the government’s plan of converting the PM House into a high-profile university, the cabinet has approved initial framework of the centre. The cabinet has formed a group that would look after it and Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, would be heading the group. Dr Shireen Mazari, Human Rights Minister, PM’s Adviser on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, head of the Task Force on Austerity and Restructuring of the Government (TFARG) Dr Ishrat Hussain and Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) would be its members.

He said 528 employees of the PM House have come down to a few ones and others have been assigned to the surplus pool.

The PTI government has also identified 2,467 properties which are of the federal government, KP and Punjab. A task force under Minister for Defence Pervaiz Khattak has been formed, which would work on utilisation of these properties. In Punjab, Fawad said, commissioners are residing in houses which have average area of 35 kanals, while deputy commissioners are living in 32 kanals houses. He said this is not acceptable for a country where the debt has been piled up to 28 trillion rupees, while funds for education, health and clean water are on lower side.

The minister further said that a delegation from the UAE is coming which would also see the possible avenues to invest here in Pakistan.

Aimed at exploration and developing domestic oil and gas sector, the government is going to offer 10 oil and gas blocks initially for competitive bidding next month. There are 46 blocks in all provinces and one in Islamabad Capital territory which are to be placed for bidding later. The Saudi government has been especially invited to invest in oil and gas sector as they have good experience in drilling and exploration.

Ghulam Sarwar said the Saudi delegation had held meetings with the government and also visited to the proposed site of the refinery at Gwadar and they are interested in investing in CPEC projects.

The MoU would be signed by Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Saudi Aramco. The location has been selected and the government of Balochistan would also be taken on board.

“We have offered them projects, especially South-North and North-South multi-purpose pipeline, where it can invest. Besides, in petroleum exploration sector, they have been offered to invest in oil and gas exploration and development. The Saudi delegation has promised to consider these proposals.

In the previous government, in energy sector, the focus was only on LNG import while keeping the domestic oil and gas exploration at a sleep. To a question that whether the Chinese have expressed concern over the Saudis entering into Gwadar and investing in the sector, the minister said, “China has no concern on it.”

The minister said Pakistan needs four to five oil refineries. “We offer all to invest here if these are Chinese, Saudis, UAE or others,” he said.

He said the UAE had already signed a MoU for Khalifa Refinery in up country. “We have never requested Saudi Arabia for oil facility on deferred payment,” he said.

Explaining increase in the recent gas tariff, the minister said only 10 to 20 percent rate has been increased for the lowest slab which is 85 percent of the total consumers. He said 23 percent of the population uses gas as fuel. He said 143 percent increase in gas tariff will affect only two percent of the gas consumers.

On the other side, the minister said LPG cylinder price has been decreased from 1,600 rupees to 1,400 rupees. He said the gas rate has been a little bit increased to meet the 158 billion rupees deficit incurred by the last government in SSGC and SNGPL.

The cabinet also ratified a summary for the appointment of Major General Arif as the director-general of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), sources said. In the meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan was briefed on the task force of the five million housing project. The premier is expected to inaugurate the housing project in the mid of October, the sources said.