ISLAMABAD, July 8 -- In an unexpected development, Secretary Petroleum and Natural Resources Mohammad Ejaz Chaudhry has been replaced, with immediate effect, by Dr Waqar Masud, who was earlier serving as secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD).
Observers see this development as not unwarranted at a time when the energy crisis is touching a new high and progress on the LNG and LPG projects is not visible. According to these sources, Chaudhry earned the ire of the top decision-makers in the capital, as he wanted to proceed with the mega projects as per the laid down procedure. His caution, they say, was the result of his fears due to an increasingly active judiciary and the National Accountability Bureau.
According to sources, Chaudhry had chosen to follow the line taken by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) on the LNG and LPG projects. Ogra had earlier opposed the import of LNG on the existing terms and conditions and disagreed with the ministry on six points. In a letter to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, the regulator had opposed the 'relaxed rules' for the import of LNG and asked for a transparent and competitive environment for ensuring the price of imported LNG at an affordable level.
Ogra had also recommended cancellation of the quota to import gas given last year to Global Energy, Gas Port and Engro on the ground that the said companies had failed to import gas within the stipulated time. Chaudhry, it is said, was in favour of importing LNG and LPG only if the terms and conditions and capacity allocations finalised by Ogra were followed.
Chaudhry confirms that he has been replaced by Masud but insists it was a routine transfer. He does admit though that he has not been given any assignment as yet. He refused to comment when asked if he had been removed because of his stance over the LNG and LPG projects.
Meanwhile, Dr Asim Hussain, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources, who is in Murree to escape the Islamabad heat, maintains that he was "unaware" of the change of his principal accounting officer.
On further questioning, Hussain conceded that he had some knowledge of the development. "Yes, there was a move but it was at the top level," he said, insisting that he had not paid much attention to the matter.
Hussain insists that Chaudhry's removal won't make much of a difference to the working of the ministry at a time when the country is facing an unprecedented energy crisis. "All secretaries have the same level of understanding about an issue," he says Published by HT Syndication with permission from Right Vision News. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at email@example.com
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(Originally published July 8, 2012, by Right Vision News.)