ISLAMABAD: Payment to Shazain Bugti of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) has now taken a new turn as the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) managing director has refused to grant approval to the issuance of cheques worth Rs770 million.
According to sources, OGDCL’s General Manager Finance Muhammad Azim, in a letter dated July 6, had sought the approval OGDCL MD Shahid Saleem for issuing Rs770 million to the Bugti family for land Uch gas field. However, the OGDCL MD refused to give approval in this regard after which cheques which were previously issued to Bugti bounced, they added.
Sources said that the OGDCL Finance Department had issued three cheques to the Bugti family allegedly on the instructions of the OGDCL chief executive officer. Officials of the company’s Finance Department are worried of action by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for misuse of powers.
“I did not issue any instructions to the GM (finance) for preparing cheques. I also did not issue any instruction through GM (CSR) or so for the preparation of cheques. I was informed that the GM (finance) is preparing some cheques regarding Uch land and inquired about the status of these cheques,” said the sources quoting the OGDCL’s note of refusal.
They also informed this scribe that Finance and Accounts Department was advised to issue cheques in view of the urgency of the matter and it was assured that the case file along with the agreement and requisite approvals would be provided to the department.
However, the requisite case file with necessary approval has not yet been provided to the department for want of which the accounting documentation still remains incomplete, they added.
Documents available with this scribe disclosed that three cheques were issued on July 1, 2020, to the owners of Uch gas field on the instructions of MD/CEO which was conveyed by GM (CSR) and SO to MD/CEO. Nawabzada Shazain Bugti was given cheque number 21506833 worth Rs257,756,931; Mir Guhram Bugti was given cheque number 21506836 worth Rs257,756, 931, and Mir Chakar Bugti was given cheque number 21506837 worth Rs257,756,931.
“In view of the above, you are requested to arrange urgently the aforesaid case file with all necessary documents and approvals enabling Finance & Accounts Department to complete the payment documentation for accounting and audit purposes,” said GM (Finance) Muhammad Azim in a letter dated July 1, 2020.
Sources further said that ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in an apparent bid to facilitate disgruntled ally JWP’s Shazain Bugti ahead finance bill 2020 voting has allegedly advised OGDCL to pay an additional 36pc as rent for 2,500 acres of oil and gas fields situated at Uch, Dera Bugti.
And, a new agreement was inked with Nawabzada Shazain Bugti by OGDCL under which OGDCL was to pay Rs79,000 per acre rent to Bugti family with effect from 1st January 2018, despite the land not being in OGDC’s use since February 2017.
Sources said that former OGDC MD Zahid Mir had surrendered 2,500 acres of oil and gas fields and had kept 1,300 acres of land as additional land.
“Approximately Rs8 billion worth heavy burden was put on the national exchequer as OGDCL issued three cheques worth Rs77.2 million to Nawbzada Shazain Bugti and his two brothers even before inking of the amended agreement,” an insider said.
According to sources, a special committee had earlier verified the use of only 800 acres of oil and gas fields at Uch by OGDC. Subsequently, the OGDC board of directors had refused to pay rent for the additional land, keeping the lease agreement intact till 2036.
It is pertinent to mention that the petroleum division has criticised the OGDCL MD for issuing these cheques.
A spokesman of OGDCL was contacted repeatedly to get OGDCL response on the matter. However, he was not available to share OGDCL’s stance.