Cabinet gives approval to multi billion deal with Saudi Arabia, removes Dar’s illegally appointed persons on key posts

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APP75-04 ISLAMABAD: October 04 - Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs meeting of the Federal Cabinet at PM Office. APP

ISLAMABAD, Oct 4 (APP):The Federal Cabinet on Thursday accorded preliminary approval to proposed multi billion rupees deal with Saudi Arabia for construction of oil refinery near Gwadar Port and decided to remove all those illegally appointed persons by former finance minister Ishaq Dar at important departments.
Briefing the journalists on the decisions of the Federal Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that matters related to oil and gas sector were discussed with the visiting Saudi delegation and a big investment would be coming to Pakistan.
Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who was present on the occasion, said “both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will sign an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) after the arrival of Saudi energy minister to Pakistan by the end of current month, or in the beginning of next month.”
The minister said Saudi Arabia had expressed the desire to immediately invest in an oil refinery. Its cost, capacity and other modalities will be finalized soon. Saudi Arabia was also interested in Gwadar and China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, he added.
The minister dispelled the impression that China had shown any concern regarding the establishment of an oil refinery by Saudi Arabia. ”We want to establish four to five new oil refineries and any country can invest.”
He said it had been agreed that it would be a government-to-government (G2G) agreement,” and Saudi Arabia’s minister of energy will visit Islamabad by the end of current month, or next month to sign the document. The provincial governments will be taken into confidence at the time of the agreements, he added.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said, was given warm welcome in Saudi Arabia and the leadership during the meeting had shown keen interest to invest in Pakistan.
He dispelled the impression that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia was aimed at seeking financial assistance. The prime minister had asked Saudi Arabia for investment and not for any financial assistance. “We have got positive response from the government of Saudi Arabia in this regard.”
He contradicted the news that Pakistan had requested Saudi Arabia to supply oil on deferred payment and said
“the issue of defer payment was never discussed.”
He said that soon after the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, a high powered delegation visited Pakistan and held a series of meetings with various ministries. The delegation also visited Gwadar.
The minister said that Saudi Arabia had also been offered investment in South-North Gas Pipeline and LNG projects besides rigging and exploration in oil and gas sectors. “We have total 46 blocks and have offered 10 blocks for open bidding and Saudi Arabia can benefit from this offer.”
Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that during the past few days a section of the media had reported about the Saudi delegation’s visit without verification and without knowing the background of the matter. He appealed to the media to be careful while reporting on such issues and the ministers concerned were available for verification.
He said that an important delegation of United Arab Emirates (UAE) was also due and it was expected that huge investment would come from there too.
He informed media that Turkey was going to establish a state-of-the-art university in Islamabad, where people would be educated about hospitality services.
The Information Minister said the cabinet had decided to remove all those persons, illegally appointed by former finance minister Ishaq Dar in important departments. They include Saeed Ahmad President National Bank; Tahira Raza President First Women Bank, Syed Talat Mahmood Chief Executive Officer of Zarai Taraqiati Bank, Ehsanul Haq Khan President SME Bank; Jameel Ahmad and Shamsul Hassan of State Bank and three officials of Competition Commission of Pakistan.
He said the Supreme Court had termed the appointments on the recommendations of Ishaq Dar as illegal as this was prerogative of the Federal Cabinet only to make those appointments and its powers could not be delegated to anyone.
He said the cabinet gave approval to the initial framework of converting Prime Minister House into a centre of excellence and a cabinet forum headed by Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood and comprising Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Adviser for Commerce and Textile Industry Razzaq Daud and the chairman Higher Education Commission would look after its affairs.
He said when the PTI came into power, the Prime Minister House had 528 employees, over hundred vehicles and four helicopters. Moreover 33 more vehicles worth Rs 960 million were purchased and Rs 330 million was required for their maintenance.
He said now only five persons were deputed at the Prime Minister House while the rest had been sent to surplus pool as the government was against sacking anyone.
He said this was the reason why the PTI government was planning to restructure and reform the national institutions.
Referring to Mushahidullah Khan he said, the PTI had no personal enmity with him, but unfortunately the previous governments inducted their cronies in the national institutions making them financially unfeasible.
The prime minster Imran Khan wanted large scale reformation in the national institutions incurring huge losses, he added.
Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the Federal Cabinet had constituted a task force under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Pervez Khattak to decide about the utilization of 2,467 government property in the federal, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab being used by commissioners, deputy commissioners etc.
The minister said that the country was under the burden of Rs 28 trillion loans, lacked health, education and drinking water facilities, so it could not afford such luxurious residences.
Replying to the questions of the media persons, Fawad Hussain said that housing scheme and Green Pakistan were the two big projects of the present government and within a couple of days dates about launch of PM’s Housing Scheme would be announced, which would change the country’s economy.
Explaining increase in the recent gas tariff, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said only 10 to 20 percent rate had been increased for the lowest slab, which forms 80 percent of the total population consuming gas in the country.
He said 23 percent of the population uses gas as fuel, and the 143 percent increase in gas tariff will affect only 2 percent of the gas consumers.
On the other side, the minister said LPG cylinder price had been reduced from about Rs 1600 to Rs 1400. The gas rate was increased a little to meet the Rs 158 billion deficit incurred by the last government.
Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the government was also providing relief to the people on petroleum prices. The government would bear the burden of Rs 8 billion this month by not increasing petroleum prices, he added.
The minister also announced to conduct forensic audit of Islamabad International Airport, Pakistan Steel Mills, and Neelum–Jhelum Hydro Power projects as their cost had escalated manifold due to unusual delay in completion.