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June 19, 2020

Gwadar port accord: Senate panel grills secretary for not sharing details

National

June 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday grilled Secretary Maritime Affairs for not sharing full and final disclosure about concessional agreement of Gwadar Port with members of parliamentary panel.

Secretary Maritime Affairs Rizwan Ahmed took stance that confidentiality clauses barred him to bring concessional agreement between Singapore Port Authority and Chinese company into public domain.

However, he agreed to allow reading of the confidential agreement between two parties on coming Tuesday when Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Finance Senator Farooq H Naek decided to hold in-camera meeting. The secretary also said that he would get back agreement copies at the end of the meeting.

The Senate panel, which held its meeting under chairmanship of Senator Farooq H Naek had directed Secretary Maritime Affairs to furnish copies of two ordinances, concession agreements done in 2006 and then 2013, identification of contractors and sub-contractors before the committee on Thursday afternoon.

When the Senate panel kick-started its second round of meeting at 2:00pm, Senator Ayesha Raza from PML-N said that this committee stands for people of Balochistan to bring development at Gwadar. Then the Chairman of Senate panel Farooq H Naek said that the entire Finance Committee strongly recommends and advocates for the development of Gwadar. This Committee is all out for protecting the interest and economic development of Gwadar as well as Pakistan, he added.

The Secretary Maritime Affairs said that the National Assembly had never rejected any bill about Gwadar. He said that two ordinances were lapsed. On this, the Chairman of Senate panel argued that it showed the government did not pursue effectively after which the ordinances were lapsed. The government had to bring required changes on Gwadar port and Special Economic Zones as part of the Finance Bill 2020-21.

Senator Mussadiq Malik from PML-N said that why all required documents were not furnished before the committee. The Secretary Maritime Affairs replied that the copy of ordinances were placed and the name of contractors were also shared.

However, the Chairman of Senate panel inquired whether he was confident that he was sharing all and required details with the Senators because if more names were part of contractors and sub-contractors then he would have to face the music.

The committee members inquired why he did not share concessional agreement with them. He replied that the confidentiality clauses barred him to do so then he read out certain clauses that did not allow sharing details by bringing into public domain. The chairman of panel agreed that he would be holding in-camera meeting on coming Tuesday provided the Secretary Maritime Affairs gave opportunity to senators to read out concessional agreement. The secretary also made commitment that he would ask Gwadar Development Authority and Chinese port development company to share details of agreements with their contractors and sub-contractors.

Senator Taleh Mehmood narrated one episode which he had to face as he stated when he went to Gwadar for accomplishing one of charitable projects, one important personality inquired some details about Gwadar development and he got embarrassed when he did not know anything about it. Then that important person had stated on his face why he was sitting in Parliament when he did not know anything.

Senator Mussadiq Malik said that they did not need liaison people so Secretary Maritime Affairs should share authentic information with the parliamentarians. At the end of the meeting, the Secretary Maritime Affairs inquired whether anyone could copy of KESC deal and requested the chairman of Senate panel to get back copy of agreement when showed and allowed to read by him in next Tuesday meeting.