Govt moves for early SC hearing on GIDC pleas – Newspaper

ISLAMABAD: According to the directives of the Office of the Prime Minister, the attorney general's office is busy collecting relevant data to file an urgent request before the Supreme Court for an early hearing of pending petitions related to the Cess Infrastructure case of Gas Development (GIDC).

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while withdrawing the GIDC Ordinance (Amendment), 2019 ordered Attorney General Anwar Mansoor to file a request for an urgent hearing in the Supreme Court so that the matter is decided as soon as possible strictly in accordance with the Law and the constitution.

An informed source told Dawn that the request was expected to be submitted to the high court on Friday.

The Supreme Court is busy with a series of petitions, one of which was jointly filed by lead attorney Makhdoom Ali Khan on behalf of 499 CNG stations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa challenging the May 31, 2017 order of the Superior Court of Peshawar ( PHC). The petition has also sought a restraining order to impose or collect GIDC in the gas supplied to CNG stations.

The GIDC issue became controversial when the government enacted a controversial ordinance last week that offered a financial amnesty of Rs210 billion to large companies, including fertilizers, general industry, IPP, power generation companies, K-Electric and the CNG sector, etc.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister's office admitted that from January 2012 to December 2018, the total amount trapped in the GIDC litigation had increased to Rs417 billion.

The previous GIDC law was approved by the National Assembly in December 2011 imposing transfers to gas consumers, in addition to the domestic sector, to develop infrastructure for a number of projects, including the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline Project, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan -India (TAPI) Pipeline project, liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and for equalizing prices of imported alternative fuels, including LPG (liquefied petroleum gas).

Previously, on April 15, 2015, the superior court had rejected the request of the federal government that sought to review its verdict of August 22, 2014 and clarify that the collection of more than Rs 100 billion under the GIDC Law could not be reimbursed to industrial gas consumers from whom it was recovered. The law then GIDC had legalized the recovery of GIDC from non-domestic consumers, mainly industries.

Later, when the GIDC ordinance expired, the National Assembly and the Senate approved the GIDC Act of 2015 and repealed the GIDC Law of 2011.

Last week, the current government issued another ordinance to offer the cancellation of Rs210 billion to different industrial companies.

The petitioners in the new round of litigation have held before the higher court that the defendants must be restricted from taking any coercive action against CNG stations, including, among others, the disconnection of the gas supply during the processing of the petition.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) have been presented as respondents in the petition.

Posted in Dawn, September 6, 2019



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