Govt insists new Reko Diq deal is transparent

ÄThe federal government informed the Supreme Court that it formed committee headed by the prime minister and the finance minister and comprising all the relevant authorities on the Reko Diq mining agreement with Barrick Gold company.

Arguing on the presidential reference on the agreement, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Amir Rehman also told a five-judge larger bench, led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, that approval of the agreement had also been obtained from the federal cabinet as well as the Balochistan cabinet

During the hearing, the AAG gave arguments on the questions in presidential reference. There was a question, he said, whether the decision of 2013 is not an obstacle in the way of the agreement with the international company

The second question is whether the amendments to the Minerals Act, 1948 for international agreement were inconsistent with the Constitution. However, sitting on the bench, Justice Muneeb Akhtar asked how could the provincial government amend the Minerals Act, which was a federal law

The AAG said that according to a Supreme Court decision in 2013, the Balochistan Development Authority was not the competent authority to conclude international agreements. He added that the previous Reko Diq agreement was annulled because of a lack of due diligence

According to the court ruling, he added, the previous agreement was not scrutinised by relevant experts and authorities and that deal was not struck through a transparent procedure. He also said that rules were relaxed illegally in the previous agreement

This time, the AAG continued, the government formed committees headed by the prime minister and the finance minister and comprising all relevant authorities, while the agreement was also approved by the federal and provincial cabinets

On July 19, 2019, the International Court imposed a fine of $6.4 billion on Pakistan. According to the documents, the chief justice said that Pakistan would be burdened with interest payment of $750,000 per day for not paying the fine

The AAG further informed the apex court that the Barrick Gold would be exempted from tax for the first 15 years. In any case, he added, Pakistan would get 50% profit from Reko Diq deal. The AAG would continue his arguments in the next hearing of the case on Wednesday (today)y……..

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