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PTI Planning To Waive Off Rs208b Dues of Influential Industrialists

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is preparing to write off a minimum of Rs 208 billion dues in favour of a few influential Karachi-based industrialists after the incumbent government and the last two governments failed to recover dues on the basis of gas infrastructure development cess (GIDC).

This move by the PTI government is being viewed as a grave injustice to poor farmers and others who have already paid their share of the amount. On the other hand, industrialists have time and again refused to deposit their share in the national kitty by taking their cases to courts.

Industrialists from Punjab have so far settled some of their liabilities while the process to deposit the pending amounts is underway.

During the recent meeting of the sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a high ranking government official informed the participants that the government was close to promulgating a presidential ordinance in this connection soon.

In case the incumbent government writes off the dues in favour of the industrialists, the sum would be close to the total amount of loans written off from 1971 to 2009. During this time period, commercial banks wrote off loans of Rs 256 billion per details submitted with the Supreme Court (SC) a few years ago.

The total GIDC dues are calculated around Rs 416.3 billion by the end of December 2018. If the presidential ordinance is passed then at least half of the said amount would be written off in favour of four sectors only, namely textile, power generation, fertiliser and compressed natural gas (CNG).

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Member of National Assembly (MNA) Ali Pervaiz raised the question of outstanding cess, after which the Petroleum Division submitted details of the dues in the National Assembly. Per details, the total GIDC dues since 2012 stood at Rs 701.5 billion till the end of December 2018. Out of the total amount, a small portion of Rs 285 billion has been paid so far.

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Earlier in the year, the PTI government was mulling a decision to provide relief to defaulters by waiving 50 per cent of their outstanding dues. Now, the government is mulling promulgation of a presidential ordinance to amend the GIDC law which would allow defaulters the space to get their dues waived.

The GIDC was imposed by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government, a move that was challenged by industrialists in courts. The next government of PML-N amended the law in 2015 but to no avail.

So far, the PPP, PML-N and PTI governments have failed to rein in the powerful industrialists and make them pay their dues.

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