October 02, 2018
ISLAMABAD - PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani Monday blamed the PTI government for what he said that it was going to “dilute” the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
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The opposition senator also questioned the government’s decision to make Saudi Arabia a part of the CPEC project, saying how the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government took this major decision unilaterally without taking the parliament onboard.
Pakistan People’s Party’s stalwart and former Senate chairman Rabbani made these remarks while taking part in the debate on Finance (Supplementary) Amendment Bill, 2018 before the house unanimously adopted its recommendations on the money bill for the National Assembly. Some other opposition lawmakers also endorsed remarks of Rabbani and said the government was undermining the provincial autonomy by not taking the provinces onboard while signing contracts with foreign countries on provincial projects.
Later, the opposition did not allow State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar to wind up the debate on the finance bill. The opposition urged that Finance Minister Asad Umar should come and answer their questions on economy followed by a brief protest walkout from the house on the issue.
In his hard-hitting speech, Rabbani said that perhaps the government was going to review projects under the CPEC. “I want to confine this issue to economic side otherwise if the statements of Foreign Office are juxtaposed ,then it looks that an efforts is being made to rethink or dilute the CPEC Project.” He said that perhaps Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had to go to China to “pacify it on this matter.”
PPP lawmaker said whether the government has negotiated with China while taking the decision that Saudi Arabia would be part of the CPEC and what was the response of China on this matter. He said that the government had allowed Saudi Arabia to build an oil refinery in Gwadar — a decision that has “ramifications which are wider than economic benefits” when Chabahar Port is on the other side of Gawadar Port.
He said the government violated the Article 172 of the Constitution by not consulting Balochistan regarding the decision. He said the government also said that gold mines of Reko Diq were being handed over to Saudi Arabia. “How the government can say that it was going to sign an MoU with a foreign country when Reko Diq mines are under the control of Govt of Balochistan,” he said. He said that not only provincial autonomy was being undermined with such decisions but “also CPEC was being diluted.”
Rabbani reminded Finance Minister Umar that he had been saying more than once in the past that they should not accept IMF’s economic package. IMF is the international financial institution which has imposed restrictions on Pakistan’s economy and labour class, he said. “Umar even gave a statement as the minister-in waiting that the government can go to IMF,” he said while showing his surprise over the statement.
He said that while an IMF team was in Islamabad for negotiations, it looked that an investigation was underway about the CPEC projects. Referring to media reports he said that details of CPEC projects were being shared with the IMF. “It is surprising for me that these contracts have not been shared with the parliament but with the IMF,” he added. Secondly, he said, the IMF in these negotiations was stressing for privatisation which was condemnable. He also hoped the government would announce NFC Award before the announcement of budget for the next financial year.
National Party Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo said the federal government had no right to hand over projects like Reko Diq to Saudi Arabia which are under the control of provinces. He said that 18th Amendment which gave more autonomy to provinces was being reversed.
PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar also said that a process was underway to undermine the 18th Amendment through signing of contracts with foreign countries by federal government on projects handled by provinces. “PTI is not openly saying that they had a problem with 18th Amendment,” he said. He also said that Constitution was being violated through such contracts.
His party’s colleague Senator Rehman Malik giving a reference to the statement of Chinese ambassador said that China was ready to review those CPEC projects on which Pakistan has reservations and said that this meant that CPEC had been undermined. PTI Senator Noman Wazir in his speech stressed that it would become difficult for Pakistan to pay back loans of worth 62 billion dollars to China under the CPEC. He said the government would have to bring four or five such mini budgets and added that there was no harm in going to IMF.
PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that PTI government was wrongly blaming the last government for not reviving the country’s economy. He said that only opposition’s 2014 sit-in hampered the economic development and now a leader of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) had revealed the London Plan made by then PTI leader Imran Khan and PAT leader Dr Tahirul Qadri to send home the then PML-N government.
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State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan in his ministerial response on the appointment of Mohammad Azam Khan, a grade 21 officer as the secretary to the Prime Minister Imran Khan said that no rule had been violated through this appointment.
He said that under the federal government’s Rules of Business of1973, only officers of grade 21 and grade 22 could be appointed as secretary to PM and principle secretary to PM respectively.