Court Seeks Details Of Chinese Bank’s Loan For Orange Line
The Lahore High Court has directed the Punjab government to furnish details of loans it obtained from a Chinese bank for multi-billion Orange Line Metro Train project.
As a division bench resumed hearing several identical petitions against the project on multiple grounds, counsel for civil society, one of the petitioners, argued that the government obtained loans from a Chinese bank on a higher mark-up and without proper study.
Advocate Azhar Siddique further said the government ignored an option of getting loan on 0.75 percent mark-up from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and opted for the one with 6pc mark-up from EXIM Bank of China.
The lawyer alleged the government had not even bothered to conduct an analysis of the international market for the purpose.
He pointed out that the Chinese bank agreed to extend loan of Rs162 billion for a project of Rs200 billion and the government’s record did not show how to meet the Rs64 billion difference.
The bench asked Punjab Advocate General Shakilur Rehman Khan to respond to the petitioners’ queries about the loans in writing.
The AGP in his arguments said the Lahore Development Authority’s decision of not claiming its one percent share under the head of service-charges would reduce the project’s cost by Rs1.75 billion. The bench questioned a no-objection certificate (NOC) issued by Director General Archaeology just three days after his posting against the slot and the one without examination of the heritage sites. The bench asked the law officer whether Shalamar Gardens, a heritage site, could be demolished if government issued an NOC.
Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh asked the AGP to convince the court as to why the government did not make public the project details before the issuance of the NOCs. The bench adjourned further hearing for June 7.
This news was previously published in DAWN and is being republished here with permission.