The Public Accounts Committee raised alarm on Wednesday that Pakistan might be forced to pay a staggering $18 billion penalty if the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project was not completed.
“If the US does not approve of Pakistan and Iran proceeding with the gas pipeline project, it should pay the penalty.” “The United States must abandon its double standards of being lenient with India in meeting its energy needs while punishing Pakistan for the same,” stated Noor Alam Khan, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The observation came after the MoFA notified the PAC via writing that a meeting with the US ambassador would be organized after his return from Washington.
The letter was in response to a concern raised during the PAC’s March 1 deliberations.
According to the head of the PAC, the United States should pay a price if it continues to obstruct the pipeline deal.
“Given the critical importance of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project in the emerging regional situation,” the ministry stated, “this ministry has been exploring all possible options, including close engagements and meaningful exchanges with relevant parties, including Iran and the United States.”
“In this regard, in January, a technical team from the petroleum division visited Tehran to discuss ways and means to move forward with the IP gas project.” The Prime Minister’s Office convened inter-ministerial talks with all stakeholders and reached an agreement on an action plan to move forward with the IP gas pipeline project.”
In response to a question on obtaining petroleum goods from Russia, the foreign ministry stated that an agreement had been made with Moscow for the purchase of a test shipment of crude oil, which would arrive in Pakistan soon.
“Pakistan had made a commitment to the Pak Stream Pipeline project.” “The two parties are negotiating outstanding issues,” according to the government.
Recovery from petroleum firms
The committee urged the ministry to recoup “money embezzled” by two petroleum businesses, which had resulted in significant losses for private investors and the national exchequer.
The two corporations, BYCO and HASCOL, have failed to restore the stolen public funds in full.
The PAC members were shocked to find that the proprietors of the two enterprises had left the country despite their names being on the exit control list. The committee was informed that BYCO owed the exchequer Rs 57 billion, but only Rs 3.9 billion had been retrieved thus far.
Noor Alam Khan expressed his unhappiness with the inadequate recovery, noting that the committee had already asked the Petroleum Division not to be lenient in recovering the embezzled sum, but that they were in talks with the defaulters.
The PAC restated its directions to take action against the two entities in order to recover the looted funds.
Noor Alam authorized the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to arrest and seize the owner of BYCO. “Sell his assets to recover the embezzled funds,” the PAC chief said.
Meanwhile, BYCO stated that it was simply a case of “payables vs receivables” because several government institutions owed Cnergyico Rs79 billion. The corporation stated that the incident was still under investigation and that it was now negotiating a settlement with the authorities.
In another instruction, the PAC requested that the petroleum ministry remove an Rs500 adjustment fee from petrol invoices in order to reduce the burden on the poor.
The PAC also advocated lifting the ban on installing new petrol meters since it “encourages theft.”
Noor Alam Khan asked the Auditor General’s office to disclose information on perks and advantages awarded to the President, Prime Minister, federal ministries, and officials.
He noted that the Auditor General had not provided information so far about the salaries and perks of senior officers of the armed forces.