PM Khan withdraws GIDC ordinance

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday announced withdrawal of the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) ordinance ahead of the massive criticism.

The prime minister has directed the attorney general to move an application for an urgent hearing in the Supreme Court so that the matter is decided at the earliest in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

Earlier, an ordinance was issued with a view to recovering half of the revenue stuck by meeting an ‘out of court’ settlement after consultation with the industry, which received massive criticism over the lucrative amnesty being extended to fertilizer plants, power plants, general industry and CNG sector without a pre-audit.

The total amount stuck in the GDC litigation from January 2012 till Dec 2018 is about Rs 417 billion.

In a press release, the premier said the withdrawal has been taken in the interest of transparency and good governance.

The premier, in his statement, noted that approaching the court includes risk because the decision could go either way; the government would either get the whole amount or could lose it entirely.

The press release added that the matter may forgo any prospects of future revenue collections under this thread.

It added that the government could be saddled with the burden of administering refunds of approximately Rs 295 billion of the principal amount.

In the first round of litigation, the Supreme Court annulled the GIDC statute. The Federal Government’s Review Petition was also dismissed by the Supreme Court, the statement read.

Fresh legislations have encountered the matter that was under challenge before the Provincial High Courts and a set of appeals is also impending in the Supreme Court, it added.

On Tuesday, the cabinet directed the law ministry to consider the amendment to the ordinance to ensure forensic audit before handing over the lucrative Rs 210 bn amnesty to the big businesses.

The cabinet had detailed discussions on the GIDC amendment ordinance, which was introduced last week, and various questions being raised in the media.