News Desk |
Shocking as it may seem, the Supreme Court of Pakistan is losing approximately Rs10 million a day as interest for the last three months by not timely investing over Rs10.6 billion funds collected so far from donations for Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.
“This is all because of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP),” regretted Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed while heading a five-judge implementation bench of the apex court. Subsequently, the court hinted that it would not waste any further time and determine how the available funds could be invested for short-term till a proper investment mode is determined.
The SC issued a notice to the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for June 13 with a directive to depute a responsible officer who could suggest the court best investment options.
“Imagine how much money we have lost in the past three months, because the SBP did not provide proper advice to the court,” Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan was quoted as saying by Dawn. He regretted that the SBP was not fair and upright.
How did it Emerge?
The top court came to know about the loss when the Secretary of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP), Dr Raheem Awan, informed the court that the commission was losing over Rs350 million per day from dam fund as interest by not investing Rs3.5 billion funds allocated for the Access to Justice program.
Similarly, Awan said, the Supreme Court is also losing approximately Rs10m per day as interest. At this moment, a representative of SBP, Mohammad Ali Malik, conceded before the apex court that the funds collected on its call was being retained with the central bank, which never provides any interest on deposits.
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“That is the reason why the SBP is wasting court’s time by holding the money for dam fund since no interest is given on such deposits,” the paper quoted Justice Saeed as saying. Consequently, it added, the SC issued a notice to the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for June 13 with a directive to depute a responsible officer who could suggest the court best investment options.
What is Next?
The paper reported that the SBP representative told the apex court that the next auction date for investment of the treasury bills would be June 19 after which the SBP could invest the dam funds in the treasury bills on June 20 with the court’s approval.
When he explained that the interest rate for three months would be 12.7 percent, 12.8pc for six months and 13pc for one year, Justice Saeed remarked that the SBP was not helpful and the court should have dealt with someone else in seeking investment proposals.
The apex court is not interested in participating in any bidding or auction to invest its funds but only in the auction date, Justice Akhtar was quoted as saying.
“A bank manager of a small city could suggest better investment options than the central bank,” Justice Saeed remarked. He said the court wanted to get the best options for investment but the SBP representative did not have a professional expertise to suggest good investment options.
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Meanwhile, when the SBP representative explained the interest rates, Justice Muneeb Akhtar regretted that the SBP considered the court as a bidder, adding that the funds the court was holding were public money and that the court was not a private investor.
He remarked that the SBP might be the master of all banks but not the master of the apex court. “The apex court is not interested in participating in any bidding or auction to invest its funds but only in the auction date,” Justice Akhtar was quoted as saying. He said the court would invest the funds if the rate was acceptable.
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“The bank’s assurance to the court is similar to the reassurance as if Pakistan will win the cricket world cup,” Justice Saeed quipped.
During the hearing, Wapda’s representative Advocate Saad Rasool told the court that work on Mohmand dam was on schedule since contracts for consultancy as well as civil works have been awarded. For Diamer-Bhasha dam, the bidding had been invited on June 2, he said.