PM Imran asks Special Assistant on Petroleum Nadeem Babar to step down

By: News Desk      Published: 06:28 PM, 26 Mar, 2021
PM Imran asks Special Assistant on Petroleum Nadeem Babar to step down

Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked his Special Assistant on Petroleum Nadeem Babar to step down from his role, reported 24NewsHD TV Channel Friday.

The development came after the Federal Investigation Agency’s probe ordered by the PM to ascertain the reasons behind petroleum shortages in the country.

Addressing a press conference Friday, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said Secretary for Petroleum Division (Mian Asad Hayauddin) will also be asked to report to the Establishment Division once his replacement is finalized and it will take place before the forensic audit begins.

Asam Umar warned against speculation and clarified that the decision in no way means that the two individuals have been found to have engaged in any wrongdoing. "The Prime Minister has decided that the entire chain has to be investigated and this decision was made so that no doubt remains of any one person's possible involvement."

In his detailed media briefing, Asad Umar also went over the final recommendations made by the cabinet committee formed by the premier to conduct the probe.

The committee included Asad himself, along with federal ministers Shafqat Mehmood, Azam Swati and Shireen Mazari.

Asad Umar said that the government has also decided to make the ministerial committee report on fuel crisis 2020 public.

“The FIA will probe the criminal negligence in the entire episode as they have been tasked to bring forward evidence in this regard,” he said adding that the FIA would bring forward the report carrying out a forensic audit within 90 days.

He said that it would be ascertained if the sale was carried out originally or was only shown in papers.

"We forwarded our recommendations to the prime minister, after which he asked for some additional information. When some more information came to the fore, we were given the go ahead to share our recommendations," said the minister.

He said these recommendations have been divided into three categories. In the first category, criminal acts have been detailed for which, under the law, criminal cases should be registered. "The evidence to be formulated in a way that charges can be brought. FIA has been told to do a forensic audit so that within 90 days prosecution efforts can begin," Umar said.

The following are the areas that FIA has been tasked to investigate:

Was the legal requirement for a minimum inventory fulfilled by the oil companies?

Were the sales figures that were reported actual numbers or was there a discrepancy between what was reported on paper and what was actual? Who reported these?

Was the product hoarded? If so, then who was responsible?

He also spoke of certain deficiencies in the system, which also saw legal violations, for example undue advantage taken of a temporary marketing licences, illegal hospitality agreements for where the product will be kept, and the product's sales at illegal outlets.

The minister also spoke of a key allegation in the report regarding delayed berthing of an oil ship so that when new rates are notified, the product can be sold at a higher rate. "A forensic investigation and pinpointing in this also needs to be done to ascertain who was responsible," Umar said.

He said illegal sales will also be covered in the forensic audit. "Action will not only be limited to fines. This will be done so people are handcuffed and sent to jail."

The minister further said that although oil retail companies and fuel stations will be targeted in the forensic audit, it must also investigate which government officials facilitated such criminal acts.