Islamabad, Mar 2 (IANS): Pakistan risks a fine of $18 billion for not completing the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project in the timeframe stipulated in the agreement, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was informed.
The apex committee of the National Assembly (NA) met with Noor Alam Khan in the chair and deliberated on the non-utilisation of 332 billion PKR in gas infrastructure development cess, The Express Tribune reported.
Demanding progress on the publicly-funded projects, Bargees Tahir said that 325 billion PKR were received, but only 2 billion PKR were spent.
Syed Hussain Tariq said that the funds are lying idle, and the projects are stagnant. He warned that Pakistan faces fines if the gas pipeline project with Iran is not completed on time, The Express Tribune reported.
Secretary petroleum wondered how the figure of 325 billion PKR came to the fore when the Petroleum Division received 2.8 billion PKR.
The secretary also highlighted the safety and security concerns in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project.
He also told the meeting that Pakistan has spoken to the US about the Iran gas pipeline project to ask for relief. He pointed out that there is a ban on importing gas from Iran, and Pakistan cannot buy it.
He further said that there have been many meetings with Russia during the past three to four months, The Express Tribune reported.
Mohsin Aziz said that levy was collected for three projects, and it was regretful that there had been no progress on any of them.
The members of the committee asked how much penalty could be imposed on Pakistan for not completing the Iran gas pipeline on time.
The secretary petroleum responded that as per the agreement, the penalty could be $18 billion.
He also remarked that they have asked the US ambassador to either give them permission to go ahead with the project or give them money to pay the fine.
The chairman then directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to call the US envoy and inform him about the gravity of the situation.
He also reiterated the two options mentioned by the secretary petroleum, The Express Tribune reported.