One of the top officials of Pakistan State Oil (PSO), who was blamed by the previous government for involvement in a base oil import scam, has requested Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to re-initiate an inquiry to unearth the ‘real culprits’.
In a letter, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, PSO General Manager Nadeem Memon wrote that he was used as a scapegoat in order to protect the favourites of the previous government’s top guns.
During the PPP’s rule, a tender for the import of base oil was scrapped on the pretext that it could have caused a loss of $3 million to the national exchequer.
“Sir, now that a new government is in place, I sincerely hope that this matter would be re-evaluated on merit and in an unbiased manner,” Memon wrote, adding that during his tenure as GM Supply in 2011, a top figure in the government had summoned him to his residence where Zulfiqar Jaffry, another General Manager (GM) heading PSO’s lubricant department, was also present. He said the former top government functionary had instructed Jaffry to import group-2 base oil immediately.
Memon further stated that import of base oil was solely the responsibility of lubricants department. But later on, the responsibility was transferred to supply department in spite of his protest. He clarified that lubricant department raised the demand for base oil import and made technical evaluation.
“I was very well aware of the whole issue and in order to make this tender extremely transparent, I took it along with all the bids to the white oil import committee which again was headed by Zulfiqar Jaffry,” he added.
“For the first time in the base oil import history, I presented the base oil tender along with all bids and correspondences to MANCON which is the highest decision-making body in the company and is headed by the managing director,” he stated adding that at this forum, his department acted as a service department and had no say whatsoever in the final decision.
He underscored the fact that after MANCON awarded the tender, the PSO managing director scrapped it upon directive of the PSO chairman, who being a non-executive chairman, had no authority to issue such directives. The tender was scrapped, nothing was imported and an inquiry was launched.
The letter said PSO had procured almost 10,000 tons of base oil without tender and in flagrant violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules – a fact which auditors had also pointed out.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2013.
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