Parliamentary investigation: OGRA likely to come under fire over CNG licences

Chairman of regulator forced to go on leave after violating govt policy.


Zafar Bhutta July 11, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


The nation’s top hydrocarbon regulator, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), is expected to come under fire today at a hearing of National Assembly’s petroleum and natural resources committee, which is investigating alleged malpractices in granting 500 licences for new compressed natural gas (CNG) stations.


The acting chairman of Ogra, Mansoor Muzaffar Ali, will testify at the hearing, to be chaired by Sardar Talib Hassan Nakai of the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q). Ogra will be asked to explain why new connections were being granted despite government restrictions on such connections in the midst of a massive gas shortage.

Ali replaces Tauqeer Sadiq, who was forced to go on leave for three months after he had been caught granting new connections to CNG stations, as well as transfers, in what appears to be a violation of government policies.

Tauqeer had delegated the powers of granting such licences to Ogra’s Member Finance, away from the Member Gas, in a bid to grant permission for illegal transfers of CNG stations sites. He is now facing an inquiry.

The petroleum ministry has also asked the cabinet division to conduct an inquiry into the allegedly illegal actions of Ogra officials who granted licences and transfers to CNG stations despite a ban. The ministry’s move comes after the parliamentary committee had taken up the issue at its last meeting.

In what appears to be a case of passing responsibility, the ministry has also asked the cabinet division if it has taken any action against Ogra officials. Many of the licenses were allegedly granted to people with political connections, which has made it more difficult for the ministry to take action.

Meanwhile, the managing directors of all state-owned oil and gas companies – Sui Northern Gas Pipelines, Sui Southern Gas Company, Pakistan Petroleum and the Oil & Gas Development Corporation – will also testify at the hearing.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2011.

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