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Pakistan will resume work on pipeline after Iran sanctions are lifted, SC told (www.pakistantoday.com.pk)

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) was informed on Monday that Iran has completed work on its portion of the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project whereas Pakistan would resume work upon the lifting of sanctions on Iran.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah heard the case.

During the course of proceedings, the Interstate Gas submitted a report regarding gas projects.

Justice Faisal Arab said that billions of rupees from the public exchequer had been spent since 2011 but no practical work started yet. It was the public’s tax money, he added.

He asked as to why all the government projects had slowed down. The bureaucracy delayed the projects which increased their cost. What the bureaucracy was doing, he questioned.

The Interstate Gas chief executive officer (CEO) said Pakistan had to invest Rs271 billion on the Pakistan-Iran gas project, while Rs3.3 billion had been spent on its paperwork so far.

Iran had completed work on the project on its soil while Pakistan would complete its portion after lifting of sanctions on Iran, he added.

He said Turkmenistan had completed work on the TAPI project and now work would be started in Afghanistan.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that the government had been spending money since 2011, but the plan was still on paper.

The Interstate Gas CEO said that the Karachi-Lahore gas pipeline would be laid under the third project of North-South.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that if all the previous projects had been completed then the new ones should be started.

The CEO said that Interstate Gas was also working on another project of underground storage.

The court also expressed annoyance over the government officials for not appearing before it with proper preparation of the case.

Justice Mushir Alam asked as to why the officers did not come to the SC instead of drinking tea in the offices.

He said that at least the additional secretary-level officer should appear before the apex court instead of a deputy secretary.

The CEO stated that Rs295 billion was insufficient to complete any project.

Justice Mushir Alam asked how would the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) benefit the industry.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah asked whether the government had raised money in that way for any project in the past.

The accountant general also submitted details of money collected through cess. Funds for the projects would be provided upon request, he added.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that salaries were being paid from the cess amount.

Justice Faisal Arab asked if Iran and Turkmenistan could complete work on their side then why Pakistan did not do so. Why Pakistan could not do the work like that of other Asian countries, he questioned.

Later, the court directed the high officials of the Finance Division and Petroleum Division to appear before it on Tuesday.

The court then adjourned the hearing of the case till Tuesday.

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