Gwadar port contract review: senate body kept in the dark about progress
ISLAMABAD (July 08 2008): The government has kept the Upper House committee in the dark about progress made so far regarding the review of contract signed between the previous government and a consortium of Port of Singapore Authority and AKD Securities.
However, next meeting of the ECC is being convened at Gwadar to sort out all outstanding issues and to take on the spot decisions in consultation with relevant federal and provincial authorities. The Senate committee on Ports and Shipping met on Monday with Senator Gulshan Saeed in the chair to discuss development work issues of the port.
When the chairperson of the committee was asked by Business Recorder whether the committee had been taken into confidence regarding the decision of the Federal Cabinet on June 4, she replied in the negative.
"We have been informed by the minister that a committee has been constituted by the Cabinet to review the Gwadar Port Authority's revised bill for new corporate structure of the port," Gulshan said. Asked why the committee had not been taken into confidence, she said that what the Incharge Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had apprised the committee that when the committee would reach any conclusion, the committee would be properly informed.
"The Gwadar Port Authority affairs and the contract with the foreign operator called for a thorough review of the whole issue in consultation with the Balochistan government," sources quoted Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani as saying.
The Cabinet had on June 27 last year in its meeting had approved the draft bill for establishment of GPA subject to certain conditions including provision related to appointment of chairman and members of the board and their term of office etc. When Kaira was told that the committee had discussed the issue of 'contract review', he said that it was a separate issue and would be discussed separately.
According to official documents available with this scribe, the revised bill is more or less the same as was approved by the Cabinet headed by Shaukat Aziz. However, Ministry of Law and Justice had made minor amendments in section 2 of the proposed bill.
"As regards corporate structure of Gwadar Port, it is pointed out that the same is already there in view of the provisions of sub-section (2) of sector 4 of the bill where it has been categorically stated that the authority shall be a corporate body, having perpetual succession and common seal, with power, subject to the provision of the Act, to acquire, hold and dispose of property both moveable and immoveable and shall by its name sue and be sued." The general direction and administration of the authority and its powers have been vested in the board of the authority.
It appears that all the authority is a jurist as all its powers shall be exercised by the board consisting of a non-executive chairman along with 15 non-executive members. The committee, however, in its meeting expressed concerns over the slow pace of work on Gwadar port project and on under-construction highways providing connectivity of this port to other cities of the country.
In reply to a question, the chairperson of the committee said that federal government needs more land to construct extended facilities for the port for which it would hold negotiations with provincial government of Balochistan and private land owners of the area.
She said the committee stressed the government to at least make the port operational to the extent that it can be used as transit port for big ships. The Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping assured the committee that the government was taking all steps to ensure that the Gwadar Port would be made operational by the end of this year.
The Committee also expressed serious concern over the grant of land to the Housing Societies despite the fact that the Federal Cabinet had decided that as a sizeable land was required for the port, it will not be given to any other party.
Business Recorder [Pakistan's First Financial Daily]