KARACHI: Sheikh Waqqas Akram, head of a National Assembly panel probing a scam involving a contract awarded to a foreign company for the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), said on Wednesday that prima-facie the Economic Coordination Committee’s (ECC) decision has in fact helped save $1.3 billion.
Earlier, a bidder for the contract had alleged the government lost as much as $1 billion under the deal. Clearly, it seems the alleged scam is fast heading towards an anticlimax. After chairing the second in-camera meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources, Akram told the waiting press that the committee had decided to summon the reporter who broke the story to give his version before giving a ruling. “We should not jump to a conclusion. Let all facts come out then we will give our judgment,” he added.
Akram, who belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid, said that Petroleum Minister Naveed Qamar gave a detailed presentation on the bids of three parties, GDF Suez, Shell and a consortium of Vitol and Fauji Foundation. According to the minister’s briefing, the total price offered by GDF Suez is $1.3 billion less than the price tag of the joint bid of Vitol and Fauji Foundation, Akram said.
The parliament has given the mandate to the Standing Committee to probe the deal and submit a report within seven days. The Supreme Court has also taken suo motu notice of the so-called scandal based on a newspaper report. The Cabinet’s ECC on February 9 decided to award a 3.5 million tonnes LNG import contract to GDF Suez.
After the ECC’s decision the consortium of Vitol and Fauji Foundation cried foul play and Fauji Foundation Managing Director Lt General (retired) Rab Nawaz rang the then finance minister and ECC chairman Shaukat Tarin to register his protest. Tarin on Tuesday in his testimony to the Standing Committee said that the petroleum ministry kept him in the dark about the joint bid of Vitol and Fauji Foundation.
He, however, said that it was not confirmed whether the decision of awarding the contract to the French company would cause a billiondollar loss, as claimed by the Fauji Foundation MD in his telephonic conversation with Tarin. Interesting enough, the Fauji Foundation MD in his testimony to the Committee said that he was not sure whether his bid was the lowest, as he did not evaluate the bid documents.
Akram refused to entertain the question as to why the petroleum ministry did not inform the ECC about the joint bid of Vitol and Fauji Foundation. He said that facts would likely be made public today (Thursday). Akram said that he had asked Fauji Foundation’s managing director to attend all sessions of the meeting.
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