The Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) grilled the lawyers representing Privatisation Commission in its case against Schon Group, asking the government entity why it was not interested in taking the money that the group was offering.
Scathing remarks were made by the chief justice during the hearing in case “Privatization Commission versus Schon Group”. Lawyer for the Schon Group informed the court that Schon Group had offered to pay close to PKR 1 billion to the Privatization Commission, and repeated the offer in front of Chief Justice Amer Farooq, but the Privatisation Commission told the court that a committee has been formed to negotiate with the Schon Group.
The Chief Justice remarked that Pakistan desperately needs money, but the Privatization Commission was refusing to take money. The Chief Justice wondered why the government entity was refusing to take money and delaying matters due to bureaucratic red-tape, at a time when the country needs financial resources “badly” .
“The judgement debtor is willing to pay, but you are not accepting even in these economic conditions”, the IHC chief judge said, and asked, “why should I not call the Secretary Privatisation Commission?”
The Chief Justice remarked that the only reason why privatisations in Pakistan have suffered is on account of the slow bureaucratic approach of the Privatisation Commission. He noted that business means “quick and timely decisions”.
The Chief Justice said that in the instant case, Schon Group was offering PKR 235 million up front, and securing the remaining amount of nearly PKR 700 million, but the Privatisation Commission was forming committees upon committees rather than taking firm and final decisions.
The case relates to Pak China Fertilizers Limited purchase by Schon Group, wherein the Privatization Commission had always maintained that the principal amount due from Schon Group was ‘NIL’ from 2004-2019 and the mark-up due was PKR 235 million, including as per all audited statements as well as Government of Pakistan external audits and filings.
The matter was sub judice since 2005, and the amount was declared through correspondences of PKR 235 million. Against norms of any government department and in contradiction to all audited statements of GOP in the past 15 years, the Privatization Commission board made a new claim and revised the figures though the matter was subjudice.
Now the execution proceedings are taking place to execute the decree, and the next hearing is scheduled for March 2023.