SNGPL, SSGCL recover over Rs8bn from defaulters: PAC told

ISLAMABAD: Secretary Petroleum and Natural Resources Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry on Monday informed a sub- committee of Public Account Committee (PAC) that Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) had recovered an amount of Rs 8.5 billion from the industrial and domestic defaulters during last year.

He said that out of said amount Rs 5 billion had been recovered during the last four months which showed the efficiency of these departments as it had never been done during last ten years.The committee, which met under the chairpersonship of Yasmeen Rehman in the National Assembly Secretariat, discussed audit paras of the Ministry of Petroleum for the financial year 2004- 05, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Officials of Audit Department informed the committee that during financial year 2006-07, the SSGCL could not recover an amount of Rs 119 million from the gas thieves.Managing Director of SSGCL Azeem Iqbal Siddiqui told the committee that the department was making efforts for the recovery of said amount but majority of the theft cases were pending in courts.The DG Audit told the committee that only five cases were pending in courts amounting to Rs 7.7 million.The MD SSGCL said that around 80 percent cases were in the courts and the company had already conveyed to the Audit about it but the DG Audit denied that they had been informed.

Qamar Zaman Kaira expressed his displeasure over difference in the version of the official of Audit and SSGCL MD and observed that the Parliament was the highest forum of accountability but the officials were misleading them.He directed the Secretary Petroleum to initiate an inquiry into the said matter and suspend the officer who was lying before the PAC within one week.Ejaz Chuadhry said that a prominent personality of Punjab and owner of a CNG station was a defaulter of Rs 223 million of SSGCL and the department had started legal proceedings against him.The Secretary said that SNGPL and SSGCL were making efforts to recover the outstanding amounts and to overcome the gas theft complaints.The Gas Theft Act has also presented in the Parliament and after its passage, the department will be able to take serious action against the defaulters, he added.

The MD SSGCL told the committee that in present circumstances no FIR could be registered against gas thieves as the OGRA did not allow it.Qamar Zaman Kaira asked the Secretary Petroleum to give in writing that OGRA does not allow for registration of a first investigation report (FIR) against gas thieves.He said that the committee would take serious notice of it.The DG Audit told the committee that the SSGCL had not recovered outstanding dues from chronic defaulters amounting to Rs 574 million.

Yasmeen Rehman, Chairperson of the committee, directed the Secretary Petroleum to ensure recoveries within thee months and asked for balcklisting the defaulting companies.She also expressed serious concern over the working of Thar Coal Project saying that the project could not be launched despite granting of billions of rupees fundsThe Director General Minerals said that the federal governamnet had released a grant of Rs 2.7 billion for Thar Coal Project whereas 6 bln dollars were required for the same. – Brecorder