ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )
The Council of Common Interest (CCI) on Monday decided to accord sovereign guarantees for the Thar coal project and to expedite transfer of properties to Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited so that revenue of US $ 800 million is realised.
Chaired by prime minister Nawaz Sharif himself in the PM House, the 25th CCI was attended by chief ministers of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The CCI also decided to expedite the transfer of properties in the name of PTCL so that revenue of $800 million is realized.
The transfer of properties in the name of PTCL would pave the way for resolving a dispute between Etisalat and the government of Pakistan which would enable payment of $800 million to the government by Etisalat.
Following the privatisation of PTCL to Etisalat in year 2006, the UAE-based company had paid only six bi-annual installments totalling about $801 million to the government out of total $1.2 billion. Rest of the amount had been withheld on pretext that all the assets of the PTCL be handed over to Etisalat. However, the federal government contended that some provincial governments were reluctant to handover PTCL’s assets to the company due to court cases and some encroachments by other entities.
According to sources, the government, under the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA), was required to provide clear titles of 100 per cent of PTCL properties (3,384 in number) by January 12, 2008. A balance of 161 non-transferred properties (including 71 in Punjab and 45 in Sindh) were still remaining despite a lapse of around eight years. The UAE government had been urging the top officials of the PML-N government to handover assets of PTCL to Etisalat.
They added that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had been directed by the PM to ensure handing over of the assets and the CCI’s approval of a result of personal interest taken by the finance minister.
The 25th CCI meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the PM’s Office, which was attended by the chief ministers of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Inter-provincial Coordination Division Secretary Ejaz Chaudhry presented the agenda.
Nawaz highlighted government’s limited resources to bear losses of state enterprises and how unnecessary recruitments and corruption has resulted in miss-management at these organisations and privatisation was the only solution. In this respect he sought support from all the provinces in the government’s decision to continue with the policy of 2011 on privatising power sector entities including DISCOs and GENCOs.
Prime Minister directed that provincial consultation should be mandatory before appointment of Board Members in public sector companies so that equal representation is ensured. CCI was presented with Annual Report for the year 2012-13, which was approved.
In this regard, Ministry of Water and Power was directed to hold meetings with all provinces to discuss the principles and decide upon mechanism for at-source deduction of outstanding power sector payables of provinces.
CCI expressed its dissatisfaction over the performance of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) and it was decided that a diagnostic analysis be conducted in order to improve its performance.
On the issue of purchase of 20 per cent shares of Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Oil Gas and Development Company Limited, Sui Southern Gas Company Limited at their face value under the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, Prime Minister directed the Finance Division to hold detailed consultations with Provinces.
The CCI also approved issuance of sovereign guarantee for Thar coal mining project. Moreover, it was decided that Sovereign Guarantees would be provided for all future coal based projects. Nawaz said that Thar Coal is an important national Project which has to be fully supported as it would provide the much needed electricity at cheap rates.
The Pakistan Engineering Council (Amendment) Bill 2013 was approved by the CCI.
Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Secretary Inter Provincial Coordination Division Ejaz Chaudhry were present in the meeting.