Govt should define role of foreign donors, says Rabbani

ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani on Tuesday directed the government to frame a policy to the extent of involvement of international donors in the internal affairs of the federation and asked it to inform parliament within two months.

“The government should frame a policy as to the extent of involvement of international donors in the internal affairs of the federation, especially its policies and legislation, and the same shall be placed before both the houses of parliament for approval within a period of two months,” he said while giving a ruling on operationalisation of joint ownership of mineral, oil and natural gas under Article 172(3) of the Constitution.

The ruling came after senators Mukhtar Ahmed Dhamrah Aajiz and Sassui Palijo moved an adjournment motion on November 8, 2017, regarding “the recent move of the federal government to delink petroleum and gas authority from the provincial oversight “which is not only are direct violation of the Constitution but will also create trust deficit between the Centre and the provinces”.

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An admission by a federal minister on the role of the World Bank in the drafting of a law about apportionment of the country’s natural resources took senators by surprise last month, prompting the Senate chairman to seek a written response from the petroleum ministry about the extent to which the bank was involved in the matter.

Winding up a discussion on the adjournment motion about the recent move by the federal government to delink the petroleum and natural gas regulator from provincial oversight in direct violation of the Constitution, Minister of State for Petroleum Jam Kamal Khan conceded that the draft Pakistan Petroleum Exploration and Production Regulatory Authority bill had been prepared by a World Bank consultant and that it had been placed before the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

The chairman said that after devolution, which sought the interpretation of Clause 3 of Article 172 of the Constitution, and as a result of the debate held in the house, he was constrained to interpret the said article for the benefit of the committee and the house.

The Senate chairman said, “Clause (3) of Article 172 of Constitution, 1973, provides for equal ownership of mineral oil and natural gas within the province or the territorial waters adjacent to a province (50 percent belonging to the federal and 50 percent to the province) and the federation is required to exercise its authority in the executive, administrative and regulatory sphere jointly and equally with the Province.

“All decisions, except day to day working, pertaining to or related with these matters shall be taken by the Council of Common Interests (CCI), as this entry falls in Part II of the Federal Legislative List.”

It is to be mentioned that the Senate Functional Committee on Devolution made a reference to the Senate chairman on October 20, 2017, to the effect, if requirements of clause (3) of Article 172, Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, have been complied with.

The reference stemmed out from the claim of the federal government that Article 172 (3) stands implemented in the meetings of the committee while all four provinces denied the position taken by the centre.

During the discussion on the adjournment motion it transpired that a bill has been prepared with the help of the World Bank wherein it has been provided that “the government may, by notification provide that until the authority is constituted and the officers, employees, consultant, etc, are appointed under this act, the powers and functions of this authority shall be exercised and performed by the director general of petroleum concessions”, which is the Federal Government.

The Senate chairman after hearing the members and Minister of State for Petroleum reserved his ruling and directed the Ministry of Petroleum to provide in writing the nature and extent of involvement of the World Bank in the entire process and any other additional information or material.

Meanwhile, the Senate chairman did not admit three adjournment motions and asked their respective movers to use other parliamentary interventions to highlight the issues.

Senator Hafiz Hamdullah moved an adjournment motion to discuss various mental and physical issues being faced by the children under fourteen years of age in Pakistan which are 35.5pc of the total population as per recent census.

Another rejected motion was moved by Senator Col (retd) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi to discuss the inadequate supply of natural gas to the domestic users of Islamabad.

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Another joint adjournment motion sponsored by senators Mohammad Azam Khan Swati, Syed Shibli Faraz, Nauman Wazir Khattak and Mohsin Aziz was not admitted by the chair. It demanded to discuss the issue of FATA reforms and its merger into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The chairman said a bill on the identical subject was part of the agenda and the issue might be discussed during the legislation.

Also, Chairman Standing Committee on Law and Justice Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi presented the report of the Committee o the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2017. Similarly, Chairman of Committee on Delegated Legislation Taj Haider presented the seventh quarterly report of the committee as required under sub-rule (3) of rule 172E of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012.

Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Muhammad Baligh ur Rehman introduced the National Skills University Islamabad Bill, 2017 which was aimed at upgrading the status of National Institute of Science and Technical Education, Islamabad into National Skills University.

The bill had been already passed by the National Assembly and was forwarded to relevant Standing Committee for further deliberations.

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