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Pakistan petrol crisis being investigated by “controversial” inquiry commission: Petroleum Division

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ISLAMABAD: The Petroleum Division is unhappy with inquiry commission investigating Pakistan’s petrol crisis. They have called the commission “controversial”.

In a response to last week’s report by the inquiry commission, the petroleum division expressed its dissatisfaction over the commission’s members.

The inquiry commission’s report on the petrol crisis

The five-member Inquiry Commission, headed by FIA Additional Director-General Abubakar Khudabaksh, has recommended strict action against the Petroleum Division secretary, Oil DG, Ogra and private oil marketing companies (OMCs).

The commission’s report also asked for dissolution of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) for six months through an act of Parliament, arguing it is not aligned with ground realities. 

The Pakistan government constituted this commission  on July 28, 2020 to probe the shortage of petroleum products.

The 155-page report submitted to the federal cabinet mentions the catalogue of failures of Ogra since 2002 that includes dishing out licenses to OMCs without ensuring actual enhancement of storage facilities, failure to ensure minimum stock requirements, imposition of ritual fines on OMCs for drying out their retail outlets during June 2020, issuance of unlawful provisional marketing licenses to OMCs and more

It recommends strict penal or departmental action against those involved in illegalities. especially in issuance of unlawful provisional marketing licenses/marketing permissions. 

Petroleum Division’s response

But the petroleum division says the commission is controversial because its chairperson and members “do not have the expertise or experience to understand the oil supply chain”. They said the commission’s report, therefore, is not correct.

Sources said the petroleum division had nominated former Oil Director-general Rashid Farooq and Petroleum Institute of Pakistan CEO Asim Murtaza as members of the inquiry commission, but they had both excused themselves from joining.

It was said that the commission’s report cannot be correct because no petroleum experts were part of the investigation.

Sources quoted the petroleum division as saying that the commission hired former OGRA director Muhammad Yaseen, who has never worked in the oil sector.

NAB has filed an assets beyond known source of income case against one of the members of the commission, Gohar Nafees, according to the petroleum division’s reply.

“How can he be included in the commission?” the petroleum division questioned.

The petroleum division’s response is likely to be submitted today to a committee headed by Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar.

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