Dwelling on the bigger picture; the foremost need of South-North Pipeline timing needs revisiting knowing that our existing pipeline available capacity will increase due to the reducing local gas production, consumption as we switch consumers to electricity and energy conservation.
If it is to be built, then it should be the mandate of ISGS who is responsible for imported gas infrastructure, including Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline with SSGC and SNGPL as subcontractor. This will build local talent and expertise as well.
“GASDISCOs” may also be integrated with Exploration and Production firms (E&Ps) instead of forming provincial gas companies.
Third-party open access in distribution and transmission will encourage projected USD 150 billion FDI in the sector over the next decade.
The September 2023 order of SC after 53 hearings since Aug 2022 on national accountability law should be challenged by the GOP to rebuild confidence and encourage decisions that are necessary to undertake reforms with a view to ensuring 7% GDP growth.
It was surprising that a law that has been criticized by courts has been upheld and reconfirms that an accused needs to prove his innocence instead of prosecution, that benami property or money laundering charge no longer requires confirmation of funds being of corruption, restores arrest at time of inquiry and without completion of investigation with period back to 90 days nor extends the law to those exempted, has undoubtedly diluted positive sentiments of decision makers that were encouraged by the promulgation of the law to safeguard constitutional rights of an accused.
The concern on the jurisdiction limit of Rs 500 million could have been revised in the 12 months of hearings to around Rs 300 million based on NAB recommending amount per its SOP in consultation with the court as was done per 2016 SCM 2031 2016/17 and 2017 YLR1 which states “we consider the figure of Rs 100m to be significantly large to justify intervention of NAB…” Furthermore, confirming FBR as being the forum for undertaking investigation of benami property identified (not from corruption funds) during investigation would have been prudent.
It is important that unless BODs or individuals taking decisions benefit personally or extend favours to others with substantiated allegations of deceit, fraud or dishonesty resulting in loss to the SOE, professionals have to be safeguarded as they undertake their responsibilities diligently and tackle scenarios that evolve during reformation and as approaches get modified.
The protection threshold for them has to be high for execution of the ambitious vision and concerted efforts of SIFC (special investment facilitation council).
The talk of a new refinery for the past 6 years, transformation of energy sector, delay in privatization over many years, lack of ownership and delay in implementation, dependencies on external consultants/advisors, extended deliberations on policy without time lines and set targets, delayed decision to seek Cabinet approval, poor understanding of new dimensions, fear, lack of competence and focus of the team are some of the glaring examples of pitfalls of the past.
The question, however, is will the future reflect the same inability to transform, execute structural changes or will a rising Pakistan benefit from World Bank advocacy that “crisis’ can be the moment as it has been for others (e.g. India and Bangladesh in the 1990s, Indonesia in the 1970s, China in 1979), who built long-term consensus around key features. e.g., Commitment (Iran), Consistency and Persistence (Mauritius), Credibility Building (Singapore), Communication and Ownership (India), Reforms (Bangladesh) and that it can be transformed by taking the required steps and measures? In conclusion, a merit-based governance and justice system, regional economic cooperation, integrated cross-functional planning with a competitive business environment and hands-off government presence/role in businesses are essential for Pakistan over the next 20 years.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023