Home »General News » Pakistan » Donations for dams funds: SC apprised of 3 options for investment
The top court was apprised of three options for the investment of donations collected through the 'Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund.' Until April 10, 2019, Rs 10.24428 billion has been collected in the Fund set up by the then Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar for the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams. Additional Attorney General Khurram Saeed, on behalf of State Bank of Pakistan, informed a five-member larger bench that there are three options to invest the money collected so far for Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams. First is treasury bill, which is for six months to three-year periods and its interest rates are 10.2 percent to 10.5 percent depending upon the period. Second is Pakistan Investment Bond that is of 3, 5 and 10-year tenor and its interest rates are 12.2%, 12.5% and 12.9%, while the third option is National Saving certificates.

The Supreme Court on January 9, 2019 had constituted a special committee comprising two directors of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and an official of the Supreme Court to explore avenues for the investment of the fund. It also formed implementation bench for the supervision of the development on the dams' construction.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, heading the bench, said that after discussing the options in the chambers, they would pass an order. The larger bench was hearing the implementation of the Supreme Court directives to Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) regarding dams' construction.

Earlier, Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan said that despite the apex court's order dated 09-01-2019 the media again started campaign to discredit the dams' project. "A smear campaign has been launched against Wapda officials and the company (Descon)," he said.

Justice Azmat inquired about the action the Pemra has taken against the TV channels. The AGP said that Pemra has imposed a fine of up to Rs 100,000. He also said that anchorperson Muhammad Malick conducted a similar programme on HUM News, which anchorperson Gharida Farooqi had done on G News. The contents of Malick's programme were almost identical to Gharida Farooqi's TV show.

The bench, therefore, directed Pemra to provide a CD along with the transcripts of the programme so that they could see whether or not it was a deliberate policy. "Same contents were repeated in that programme [Malick's]," said the AGP. Justice Ijaz asked the AGP whether those should have been countered, adding that some media houses wish to jeopardise the national project.

However, Justice Azmat said: "We [SC] can't be the spokesman for Wapda or the federal government." He said there could be three situations: first, freedom of expression; secondly, something aired on TV channels, which was not done diligently; and the third one is a deliberate attempt.

Justice Faisal Arab asked the AGP that they [Wapda] would have to face the criticism, adding if fake news are circulated then the court will take action.

At the outset of proceedings, Advocate Saad Rasool representing Wapda said that the work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Mohmand Dams is ongoing as per schedule and the contractors have been mobilised.

He said that the federal government under PSDP programme has provided Rs 17 billion and the Wapda is trying to arrange foreign funds that would be possible in next 18 months. Negotiations with the foreign consortium and consultants would be completed by the end of this month, he added.

Dr Parvez Hassan, who was appointed as amicus curiae, requested the bench to allow him to recuse from this case as he had been associated with Descon Engineering Limited. The bench accepted his request.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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