ISLAMABAD -  Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani on Tuesday asked the government to frame a policy in order to get approval from the Parliament in two months period regarding involvement of international donors/organisations especially the IMF and the World Bank in framing policies and legislation by the federation.

The Senate chairman issued his ruling on the reference forwarded by the Senate Functional Committee on Devolution, which sought interpretation of Clause (3) of Article 172 of the Constitution 1973.

He ruled that Clause (3) of Article 172 of Constitution provides for equal ownership of mineral oil and natural gas within the province of the territorial waters adjacent to a province and federation if required to exercise its authority in the executive, administrative and regulatory sphere jointly and equally within the province.

The Senate chairman further ruled that 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 11 of the federal legislative list, Constitution, 1973.

He further ruled that the government should frame a policy as to the extent of involvement of international donors/organisations into the internal affairs of the federation especially its policies and legislations and the same shall be placed before the both houses of the parliament for approval within a period of two months.

This ruling by the Senate chairman came after the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources failed to furnish/submit information, the chairman had sought about the role of a World Bank consultant in framing policy for development of country’s up and down stream petroleum sector on December 14.

It was also after reference from the Senate functional committee, and after an admission by a federal minister on the role of the World Bank in drafting of a law about apportionment of the country’s natural resources

Winding up a discussion on an 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 had 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).

He, however, had emphasised that it was merely a draft law and would be given a final shape in consultation with the provinces.

In an effort to downplay whatever he himself had conceded, he added: “Proposals are made and we pick and choose.”

Disclosures by Senator Babar had forced the minister to admit law was formulated by a consultant of the bank.

Speaking on the motion, Senator Farhatullah Babar had said earlier that “a mysterious and unexplained move was afoot to deprive the provinces of their right to develop the petroleum sector by awarding petroleum concessions and vest the federal petroleum ministry with this right in violation of Article 172(3) and other articles in the Constitution introduced under the 18th Amendment”.

“And this is being done under the advice of the World Bank,” Babar had said.

He had said a bill, — titled the Pakistan Petroleum Exploration and Production Regulatory Authority Act, 2107, — had already been drawn up to set up an authority to grant and monitor all petroleum concessions and other upstream activities throughout the country.

He also had read out excerpts from the bill.

The upstream petroleum sector, he had said, included exploration and production of oil and natural gas and held key to self-sufficiency in the sector, decrease imports and pave way for massive economic development. Because of massive contracts for exploration blocks, the upstream sector was also the most lucrative.

Interestingly but ominously, said Senator Babar then, the bill provided that until the desired authority was set up the federal government by a simple notification could entrust the upstream development work anywhere in the country to the petroleum ministry.

“Thus, the proposed bill is just a one-liner that takes away the rights of the provinces and places them in the lap of the petroleum ministry,” he had said.

Upon this, Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani had asked him to give a copy of the proposed bill to the Senate Secretariat, which he proceeded to do.

Senator Babar had said the federal government had neither awarded concessions to exploration companies itself nor allowed the provinces to award such concessions in the five years since the Petroleum Policy of 2012 had been in operation.

He had then asked why this was so.

“Is this because some powerful lobbies and vested interests are deliberately withholding development of the petroleum sector to allow for import of LNG and other petroleum products?” he said while calling for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Chairman Rabbani had sought a written reply from the petroleum ministry by Friday on the extent of the World Bank’s role in the matter. n

The parliamentary leader of the PPP in the Senate, Taj Haider, had said he had asked Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah not to discuss the draft law in the CCI and had rejected it.

He had said that if the draft became law, even mines would not remain the property of the provincial governments.

“The real target of the draft bill is Thar coal,” he had remarked.