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Friday, 25 November 2011

SC seeks RPPs policy documents

 The counsel for former federal minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that they followed previous government?s policy on rental power projects (RPPs).
Ashraf?s counsel Wasim Sajjad said that the federal cabinet and economic coordination committee (ECC) approved the summaries sent by the ministry.
A two-member SC bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, heard a suo moto case and two identical petitions filed by Faisal Saleh Hayat and PML-N MNA Khawaja Muhammad Asif against the RPPs. The bench directed the FBR chairman to submit a detailed report about custom duty and goods description, showing the life of machinery, whether it was branded or unbranded, year of make of equipment today (Wednesday).
During the hearing, the court observed that the government was getting recoveries from RPPs on the intervention of the judiciary otherwise it appeared all-defective.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain remarked, ?Whether you people were in government or opposition, darkness became the fate of the masses and the government signed RPPs paying billions of rupees in advance but got just 100MW.?
Wasim Sajjad stated when his client took the charge as minister, there was countrywide agitation against loadshedding and it become an election issue so he decided to continue with the RPPs policy as it was the only short-term and speedy remedy to overcome the crisis. ?My client took charge of the ministry on March 21, 2008 while the issue surfaced well before him,? he added. The chief justice asked Wasim Sajjad how many RPPs were signed during his client tenure. He replied that a couple of them were signed under his ministry but the policy had already been there and bidding process was almost completed.
He submitted that Gulf, Karkay, Reshma and Nodero were the main RPPs signed during his client?s tenure. The CJ observed that in Karkay, no advertisement was made.
Wasim Sajjad said no doubt that shortage of electricity was there but even then his client did try to keep transparency by adopting criteria of International Competitive Bidding (ICB).
He stated that rates were also approved by the Nepra and as far as implementation was concerned, it was the duty of the line department and the minister was not responsible for that and increase in mobilisation amount was approved by the federal cabinet.
The CJ asked him to clarify the responsibility of the minister under the rules of business. Justice Khilji asked him why his client did not wait for the other bidders. ?He might have got some cheap bidders if he tried to get cheap electricity,? he added.
Wasim Sajjad stated that no money has been looted in this regard and every penny was recoverable. He said Reshma had returned all the money and interest will be paid soon.
He observed that it was the duty of the minister to frame a policy but all was done without any concrete policy. ?If u had any policy in this regard, just show it to us so that we can be happy that you did something in accordance with the law,? CJ added with anger.
Wasim Sajjad said that it was decided by the federal cabinet and he would show the policy during his arguments.
He said: ?The ministers never make any policy before the approval of the cabinet as previously we faced some problems due to the shortage of gas and then decided to make some RPPs, which could be able to work on dual fuel. The CJ regretted that all such experiments were made after getting loans.
?All such things were the prime duty of the minister but your client did not bother about the success of RPPs,? CJ added. Wasim Sajjad replied that everything was transparent and could be seen on the websites. The court adjourned the hearing.

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