NAB expected to grill former PM Abbasi in PSO losses case

  • PSO MD says Abbasi helmed energy ministry which raised import demand causing Rs20.5 billion losses

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is expected to grill former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over Pakistan State Oil (PSO)  MD Sheikh Emranul Haq’s claim that Ministry of Energy was responsible for allegedly causing a loss of over Rs20 billion to the PSO, it was learnt.

Sources told Pakistan Today that Sheikh Emranul Haq has told the NAB that PSO had asked Ministry of Energy to change the mode of import in January 2017 as it was facing heavy loss. The ministry, however, did not change the mode of import and instead raised import demand due to which heavy losses were faced.

The NAB headquarter has already recommended the interior ministry to place the name of Sheikh Emranul Haq on Exit Control List (ECL) following Karachi NAB’s request.

Sources said that Haq had informed the bureau that under the cost and freight (C&F) mode of import, the PSO was more secure, especially when off-specification products landed at the country’s ports. However, contrary to that, when the mode of import was shifted to freight on board (FOB), the PSO went into massive losses in the shape of demurrages and supply of off-specification petroleum oil products (POL) to the public.

They further said that the PSO MD has also told the anti-graft watchdog that inflicting a loss of Rs20.35 billion to PSO in the shape of demurrages paid to the vessels of furnace oil and POL products was allegedly because of the demand raised by energy ministry.

“Overstated demand of cargos was generated by the ministry while the consumption remained low, causing the loss,” said sources quoting PSO MD’s statement before NAB.

It is pertinent to mention here that in order to improve governance and efficiency of the government and to accommodate newly inducted cabinet members, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had created seven new ministries. He kept the cabinet portfolio of energy minister for himself which was created through the merger of the power wing of the Ministry of Water and Power and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, an office Abbasi held before becoming the prime minister.

Being the head of national oil giant PSO, Haq is accused of allowing most of the vessels to remain berthed at ports for a longer duration of time or more than six days, causing a loss of Rs18.4 million ($156,000)per day. And during his tenure, the PSO suffered 1,150 days of demurrages causing a loss of Rs20.35 billion to the national exchequer.

He, however, shifted the responsibility onto ex-PM Abbasi’s Energy Ministry.

Responding to the issue of recent demurrages, the PSO has maintained that the Ministry of Energy raised demand for PSO to arrange cargoes. PSO also said that last year it received quarterly demand from the ministry based on which the cargoes of furnace oil were arranged.

However, the consumption remained lower than the demand raised by the ministry, resulting in bunching of vessels at the port causing demurrages, said PSO.

PSO further maintained that the same may happen this year due to many issues including congestion at ports since Pakistan’s infrastructure has not been developed to meet the soaring demands that have raised manifold.

It is pertinent to mention here that following the request of Karachi NAB, the Ministry of Interior is in a fix either to put Emranul Haq’s name on the list or to comply with instructions of former PM Abbasi, who verbally directed interior secretary to avoid doing so. So far, the ministry has complied with the ex-premier’s instructions.

Moreover, former premier Abbasi and PSO MD Sheikh Emranul Haq have also been named in a NAB inquiry pertaining to the illegal award of multi-billion dollars LNG terminal contract to a favourite company.