Outcry causes govt rethink of gas cess relief – Newspaper

ISLAMABAD: Amid growing criticism about a lucrative amnesty that was extended to fertilizer plants, power plants and other businesses before the audit, the federal cabinet on Tuesday ordered the Ministry of Law to examine how another amendment could be made to a Cess of recently introduced gas infrastructure development (GIDC) Amendment Ordinance, 2019.

The government has been under pressure in recent days to allow a 50 percent discount on around Rs420bn GIDC, payable for fertilizer plants, power plants, the industry in general and the CNG sector without a prior audit.

The cabinet ordered the law ministry to consider the amendment to the ordinance to ensure a forensic audit before extending the lucrative Rs210bn amnesty to large companies.

On Tuesday, key cabinet members held separate briefings for different sections of the media in addition to those in the cabinet on what was described as a way to counter "a specific and planned campaign" against the leadership that ended corruption and nepotism and introduced meritocracy in the country.

"The prime minister expressed his dissatisfaction with this," said the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, while informing the media about the cabinet meeting.

This was the fourth press conference in so many days held by the Minister of Energy, Omar Ayub Khan, and the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum, Nadeem Babar, on the subject since the GIDC amendment ordinance was introduced last week .

The Minister of Energy says that the relief for the fertilizer and other business sector is not new since the PML-N government also reached an agreement with the CNG sector

When asked about parliamentary coverage of the ordinance, Babar said the transaction could be completed within the legal life of the ordinance.

Dr. Awan was of the opinion that the energy minister and the special assistant to the prime minister of oil had informed journalists about the issue on Monday as well, but the message had not reached the people with the vigor it required, since the controversy I wasn't done on social media. media and electronic media.

According to the prime minister's directive, two separate briefings were organized for the media.

Ayub said the cabinet had detailed discussions on the GIDC issue and several questions that arose in the media. He said the cabinet said that although the forensic audit was not mentioned in the ordinance because it was a sector-specific problem, the previous cabinet meeting had linked the GIDC agreement with the fertilizer industry to the forensic audit of the companies' accounts. of fertilizers.

The prime minister after detailed discussions on the matter ordered the law minister to examine how another amendment could be inserted in the GIDC Amendment Ordinance 2019 to ensure forensic auditing. He said it was wrong to suggest that the GIDC amnesty came suddenly, because it had been initiated by former finance minister Asad Umar eight or nine months ago and the ministries of finance, oil, industries and production and laws had been involved in the Finalization of a summary that was rarely discussed last week by the federal cabinet.

Mr. Babar, in response to a question, said it was also incorrect to suggest that the prime minister had been deceived on the subject, explaining that he himself had held two briefings for the prime minister on the subject in recent days.

On August 27, the PTI government issued a presidential ordinance for the out-of-court settlement of the Rs420bn GIDC dispute with the industry. The ordinance allowed the industry, the fertilizer sector and the CNG sector to pay 50 percent of their outstanding bills within 90 days in advance and obtain a 50 percent discount on future invoices provided they withdraw their court cases.

The assistant prime minister said the government expected net income of between 150 and 160 billion rupees under the proposed amnesty, provided that all interested parties made use of the government's offer.

The minister said the 50-piece discount offered to the industry through the ordinance was not something new, since the previous government had reached an agreement with the CNG industry on the same lines in March 2018.

When asked why rulers who claimed to be fair and transparent followed the path of those they often called corrupt, Babar said the government would never have opted for this if there were no multiple suspension orders in the higher courts for years and There was no final decision. view.

In addition, he said, the government had received only 15 percent of the invoiced amounts and the remaining 85 percent was stuck in court. Recalling that last fiscal year, the government raised Rs25bn (25pc) of the budgeted target of Rs100bn, Babar said that some amounts must have been transferred from the previous fiscal year, otherwise the actual revenue to governments remained 16pc at 18pc.

Ayub added that the motivating factor behind the reduction of GIDC facilities was to reduce the burden of inflationary pressure to reduce fertilizer prices.

"The impact of the increase in the price of gas is being offset by the reduction in the rate of GIDC in fertilizers," he said.

In response to a question about a conflict of interest, Babar said he had established two power plants in the private sector and that one of them had been sold years ago while reducing its Orient Power stakes to around 25{7be40b84a6a43fc4fae13304fce9a2695859798abfc41afd127b9f8b21c5f9c5} that it had paid in excess. of Rs28 million to the SNGPL before 2011.

Curfew in Kashmir in India

Dr. Awan said the cabinet condemned the continuation of the curfew in Kashmir in India for more than 30 days and decided to exploit all international forums to highlight the sufferings of cashmere. The cabinet also decided to continue with the weekly initiative to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir.

She said the cabinet also received an information session on the issue of waste management in Karachi and that 500 million gallons of wastewater entered the sea daily. Hospital waste was also draining into the sea.

He said it was decided that all provincial chief secretaries would hold consultations to find a solution to the safe disposal of waste. The cabinet also decided to introduce the real estate regulatory authority in consultation with the provinces to control the poorly planned and growing growth of housing societies across the country.

While considering the regularization of 666 hired teachers and the creation of more posts in the education department, the cabinet ordered federal ministries and departments to compile details of contract employees and daily wages, so that a policy would be applied of regular regularization. formulated to avoid discrimination.

Posted in Dawn, September 4, 2019

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1503358/outcry-causes-govt-rethink-of-gas-cess-relief


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