SC irked over PTI govt’s failure to assist in GIDC case

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed displeasure over the federal government’s failure to provide assistance in the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) case involving billions of rupees of the national exchequer.

A three-member special bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah questioned the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for not releasing the amount to initiate gas pipeline projects despite a collection of Rs295 billion in the GIDC fund.

Justice Shah asked if the amount was allocated for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project as Justice Arab observed that Tehran and Ashgabat had completed the work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India project (TAPI) while Pakistan was stalling the project.

The bench was also irked by the absence of top officers as the petroleum and finance ministries sent junior officials who failed to satisfy the court in their responses regarding the federal government’s decision to not release funds for the projects.

Noting that the relevant top officials should be present in the court to answer the questions, the bench adjourned the hearing till Tuesday.

GIDC case

In August last year, President Arif Alvi promulgated the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (Amendment) Ordinance 2019 for an out-of-court settlement of the Rs420 billion dispute with industries.

The ordinance allowed the general industry, fertiliser sector and CNG sector to pay 50% of their outstanding bills within 90 days in advance and secure 50% discount on future bills provided they withdrew their court cases.

The government said it expected net receipts of Rs150-Rs160 billion under the proposed amnesty provided all the stakeholders availed the offer. However, the government after receiving strong disapproval from various circles withdrew the ordinance within days of its promulgation.