Balochistan to challenge $6b Reko Diq penalty

Published: October 9, 2019
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

QUETTA: Balochistan government has decided to file a review petition against a decision of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) which imposed around $6 billion penalties on Pakistan in the Reko Diq case.

“The government has decided to call for a review of the decision to impose Rs6 billion fine on Pakistan,” Balochistan Finance Minister Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi said while responding to a question on the first day of the autumn session of the Balochistan Assembly on Monday.

Balochistan National Party’s Sanaullah Baloch and some other members had taken up the issue of the Reko Diq penalty and complained that elected representatives had not been briefed about what steps the government was taking.

Taking the floor, Buledi said the house will soon be informed about every development in the case.

“The ICSID, one of the five organisations of the World Bank Group, has announced a huge award of $5.976 billion against Pakistan in the Reko Diq case and we would challenge this order,” he said.

The minister said the government is drafting legislation for the protection of Balochistan’s natural resources, adding that it will take all possible steps to use Balochistan’s resources for benefit of its people.

“The provincial government has already decided not to allow any foreigner to buy a single inch of land in Balochistan. Rights of the people of Balochistan would be protected at all cost,” he said.

The minister said there was no proposal under consideration for establishing a Federal Coastal Development Authority.   He said the government gave more attention to transparency.

“Funds for development projects are also being released on time. Our first and foremost priority is to complete all ongoing projects on time. The government of Balochistan has released Rs15 billion for development schemes and projects in the current fiscal year,” he said.

Minister for Information Technology Abdul Rehman Khetran replied to queries regarding postings and transfers and said officers of the Balochistan government are being transferred and posted according to requirement only in order to run the administrative matters smoothly.

“For the first time in the history of Balochistan Assembly, comprehensive policies have been designed and implemented to get maximum possible results of the policies of the provincial government for the betterment of the Balochistan and welfare of the common man,” said Khetran.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Yar Muhammad Rind said the PTI is part of the coalition government of Balochistan.  He requested the government to take the PTI and other members of the house into confidence in policy matters.

Talking with reference to the Reko Diq case, he demanded an In-camera briefing on the ‘issue of national interest’.  “The penalty imposed by the ICSID can never be paid by our next three generations.”

The Balochistan Assembly approved various bills regarding the regularisation of welfare organisations. Reports of standing committees on the department of social welfare and distance learning programme were also tabled in the house during the session.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2019.

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