ISLAMABAD: Dispelling impressions of external pressure to shelve the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain informed the Senate that it would be completed by 2013, one year ahead of schedule.
Hussain said, “First gas flow is targeted by the end of 2014.” The estimated cost is $1.5 billion, but it will be firmed up after completion of a bankable feasibility study. Initial information for financing the project has been exchanged with international investors from China, Russia and the Middle East, he added. The Turkmenistan gas pipeline project has also taken a great leap forward after nearly a decade and the gas supply and purchase agreement will be signed on November 15. Major components of the project including tender for pipes and compressors will be floated this month, said the petroleum minister.
He said the government would introduce a new petroleum exploration and production policy to provide additional incentives to investors for exploration of oil and gas in the country. These incentives, he added, would compensate for risk taken by companies for doing business in the present environment.
Government introduces money bills
The government has tabled the Petroleum Levy Amendment Bill, 2011 and Gas Infrastructure Development Cess Bill, 2011” in the Senate amid criticism from the opposition on the imposition of gas surcharge on consumers. The petroleum levy was introduced in the National Assembly when the Senate was not in session.
According to an explanatory statement, the Iran-Pakistan and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline projects were being pursued to increase supply and a surcharge was necessary to develop the required infrastructure. The government would otherwise be forced to import liquid fuels which are more expensive than gas. PML-N’s parliamentary leader in the Senate and former finance minister Ishaq Dar said the bills should not have been introduced as money bills, since they read like a mini-budget.
The bill on petroleum levy states that the levy is payable as mentioned in the fifth schedule along with the applicable rates, but keeping in view the need to revise the rates in line with international prices and other relevant considerations, it is necessary to revive section 7 in its original form, and omit the fifth schedule from the constitution.
Senate Chairman Dr Farooq H Naek has asked the State Bank of Pakistan to extend the deadline for exchange of the old Rs500 notes.
Dua for Turkish earthquake victims
The house offered dua for Turkey’s earthquake victims at Senator Tariq Azeem’s request.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2011.