Rs. 83 Billion loss caused to exchequer, says NAB
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has submitted to the Justice Bhagwandas Commission a report on the wrongdoings it says have been committed by the government functionaries and oil industry people in the pricing of petroleum products causing a loss of Rs83 billion to the nation over a period of five years.
The Supreme Court constituted a few months ago the high-level commission led by former SC judge Justice Rana Bhagwandas to hold a probe into the fixing of oil prices and to suggest measures to plug loopholes in the pricing mechanism to ensure fair prices of petroleum products to consumers.
The apex court had taken serious notice of the petroleum ministry’s non-cooperation and instructed the government to provide all information to the commission so that it might reach a judgment.
The NAB report that covered petroleum pricing mechanism between June 2001 and June 2006 was originally submitted to the then president Gen Pervez Musharraf and prime minister Shaukat Aziz on June 13, 2006 by the then NAB chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz.
The report was never made public but the NAB chairman was removed unceremoniously shortly after it was submitted to the presidency and the prime minister.
The NAB report has now been provided to the Justice Bhagwandas Commission which is expected to submit its final report to the apex court by June 30.
According to a former deputy chairman of NAB, Maj-Gen Muhammad Siddique, senior management of “Pakistan State Oil Company Limited (PSO) and others are involved in massive misappropriation/misuse of authority and forgery in the import of HSD (high speed diesel) and its subsequent sale in the country and … committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices” as defined in relevant laws.
The report prepared by a three-member investigation team and exclusively available with Dawn concluded that “it is sufficiently evident that (functionaries in the) ministry of petroleum in collusion with the Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC), oil industry and Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have engaged themselves in corrupt practices for generating colossal undue financial gains for refineries and OMCs at the cost of public and economy as a whole”.
It said the federal cabinet in June 2001 entrusted the role of oil price fixation to OCAC under monitoring by the director-general of oil but none of the directors-general performed the task of monitoring and some of them even expressed ignorance about the cabinet decision. The entire price fixation by OCAC “remained non-transparent/dubious and the DG Oil/Ministry did not play any role, violating the cabinet decision”.
As a result of faulty policies, the profits of Shell Pakistan, Caltex and PSO increased by 232 per cent, 281 per cent and 252 per cent between 2001 and 2004-05. Likewise, the profits of Attock Refinery, National Refinery, Pak Refinery and Parco jumped by 4331 per cent, 3578 per cent, 1717 per cent and 597 per cent, respectively, between 2001-02 and 2004-05.
The report said that a loss of over Rs11 billion was caused to the exchequer because of a redundant oil pricing formula for petrol (motor spirit) while another Rs34 billion loss was caused due to wrongful addition of premiums on the import parity prices of petrol and high speed diesel between July 2001 and April 2006.
Likewise, the report pointed out that the petroleum ministry failed to cap the distribution margins of the OMCs and dealers when the petroleum prices touched the roof and provided a benefit of Rs9 billion to the OMCs and dealers between December 2004 and May 2006.
“The ministry despite having assured the ECC in the summary of capping the margins, failed to cap OMCs’/dealers’ margins resulting in their exorbitant profit margins,” the report said.
It calculated a financial impact of more than Rs18 billion that was `erroneously’ earned by the oil marketing companies and dealers in five years because the OCAC charged commissions even on government taxes, particularly on 15 per cent GST, that was clearly in violation of laws.
The report said that a loss of another Rs6 billion was caused to the government by “illegal removal of 40 per cent upper cap of profits” to the refineries, making a total loss of Rs82.90 billion.
It said under the federal cabinet decision, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) was established in March 2002, requiring the government to immediately transfer monitoring and regulatory function of petroleum prices to Ogra. However, the transfer of regulatory role to Ogra “was delayed by the ministry for more than four years. The gas regulation and licensing function were transferred to Ogra, but POL pricing was withheld for four years”.
Similarly, “the deemed duty in the guise of tariff protection was allowed to refineries without seeking specific legal approval/issuance of SRO”. —By special arrangement.
June 25, 2009
Courtesy: Dawn, ISLAMABAD, & Pakistan Corruption Reporter