Why don’t Prime Minister’s colleagues follow Rules of Business?

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who has repeatedly instructed the ministries to follow the Rules of Business 1973 on ex post facto approvals of agreements and memoranda of understandings (MoUs) with different countries, delivered the same ‘litany complaints’ during the Federal Cabinet meeting on November 18, 2009, official sources told Business Recorder. This time, it was the Ministries of Water and Power, which had not observed the Prime Minister’s earlier instructions, citing time constraints.
The Cabinet was informed that during the visits of President Asif Ali Zardari to China in April 2008, October 2008 and February 2009, the following three MoUs were signed between Pakistan and China: (i) MoU between Ministry of Water and Power Pakistan and Ministry of Water Resources, China highlighting co-operation in several areas of water resources and rural electrification; (ii) MoU regarding implementation of Kohala hydropower project between Ministry of Water and Power and China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE); and (iii) MoU for co-operation on consultancy and engineering services between Wapda and China Three Gorges Project Co-operation(CTGPC).
According to official documents, MoU on implementation of Kohala hydropower project was signed on October 17, 2008. The project is to be implemented on the basis of Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), turnkey, or Build, Own and Transfer (BOT); CQE will be fully responsible for the execution of the projects with installed capacity of 1100 MW in Muzaffarabad, Kashmir.
In pursuance of MoUs, the Chinese companies, which are all government-owned, are approaching the Ministry of Water and Power to execute mega hydropower projects such as Bunji (6000 MW), Dassu (4320 MW), Pattan (2800 MW), Thakot (2800) and sedimentation management projects with financing arranged by them.
In the current scenario of global financial crunch and a massive portfolio of power sector project requiring an investment of $30 billion, Chinese companies are also being encouraged to participate in the development of major hydropower projects of vital national importance which will help Pakistan in correcting her energy mix thereby resulting in reduction of power tariffs, said Secretary Water and Power, Shahid Rafi, in the summary submitted to the Cabinet. Sources said that when the summary came under discussion, the Prime Minister expressed annoyance over the Ministry’s not seeking approval from the Cabinet on time.
“The Cabinet, however, directed the Ministries that, in future, the requirement of Rules of Business 1973 to seek prior approval of the Cabinet before signing the MoUs, agreements etc be adhered to, in letter and spirit,” sources added. This was not the first time that the Prime Minister has directed Ministries to follow Rules of Business which, in the past, were not required.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2009