Top officials of govt gas pipeline firm sacked for questioning transparency


ISLAMABAD: The government has sacked the chairman and an independent member of the board of directors (BoD) of a state-owned entity executing $15 billion gas pipeline projects after they raised questions of economic feasibility, transparency and record tampering.
Informed sources told Media that Chairman Nawabzada Shahzad A. Khan and member Zubair Motiwala were unceremoniously removed by the ministry of petroleum from the nine-member board of the Interstate Gas Systems (Pvt) Ltd (ISGS) a day after they put on record in writing what they described as the fudging of proceedings and decisions of the board meetings regarding critical pipeline projects and budgets.
The size of the board was reduced through a notification to seven comprising officials of the ministry and its subordinate companies.
When asked if the two gentlemen were removed for raising questions over transparency and fudging of record of the board meetings, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said: “Not that I know of.”
The ISGS only had an acting chairman for the last few meetings as the board was to be reconstituted due to the expiry of the term of several members, he added. He declined to comment on issues of transparency and record tampering, saying the ISGS managing director should be contacted to seek comments on the issues.
Mr Khan alleged in a letter sent to the petroleum minister after his sacking that the ministry had “started exerting pressure on the decision making of the board of directors… and tried to manage and implement important decisions through the managing director without authorisation of the board”.
He said he had written the letter as a “whistle blower for the people at the helm of affairs to (ask them to) take appropriate action to restrain those responsible from plundering the state exchequer”.
He said that the structure of $4.7 billion gas pipeline projects — 850km Gwadar-Nawabshah and 710km Karachi-Lahore — had been designed on foreign loans against sovereign guarantees. It will mean the public will pay $20.3bn in the next 20 years though the gas supply will be only 600 million cubic feet per day — half of the promised 1200mmcfd.
He said that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project inaugurated in early 2013 had been shelved by the ministry without knowledge or consent of the ISGS board. “It was reshaped into Gwadar-Nawabshah project without a technical and financial feasibility study. The consultant hired for the Iran-Pakistan project was also given works of a liquefied natural gas terminal and the Gwadar-Nawabshah pipeline without authorisation of the board and in violation of procurement rules as highlighted by independent lawyer Khalid Anwar.”