Islamabad - The Ministry of Planning Development and Reform (MoPDR) can go away with the demand of third party cost validation for the ML-I project only if the government amends the rule and exempt G to G agreements from NAB scrutiny.

The planning ministry has told the government to amend the existing accountability rules to remove G to G agreement from the NAB radar and then they can withdraw their demand for the cost validation of ML-I, official sources told The Nation here Sunday.

The total estimated cost of the ML-I project is $9 billion and it will be completed in three phases.

The Planning Commission proposed to get the third party cost verification of first phase of the project which is worth $2.4 billion.

However the federal minister for railway asserts that the cost validation will further delay the project.

If the government is in hurry for the execution of ML-I project, it should change the rule or wait till the completion of cost validation of the project, the source said.

The bureaucracy is not ready to take any risk when it comes to following the rule and regulations in the execution of G to G agreement mainly because of the fear of the accountability watchdog, sources said.

The sources said that we have the example of how negative propaganda was launched by the then opposition (PTI and its allies) against the LNG deal signed between Pakistan and Qatar, during PML N government, which was also a G to G agreement.

The source said that the sitting Railway minister, who blames the Planning commission for creating hurdles in Railway ML-I project, was the one who had criticised G to G LNG contract with Qatar and had claimed to have obtained proofs of corruption in LNG deal with Qatar.

So who can guarantee that tomorrow another Shaikh Rasheed will not challenge today’s G to G deal for ML-I with China, the source questioned.

The planning commission wants a legal cover beyond the tenure of the incumbent government, the source added.

It is pertinent to mention here that last week in the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on CPEC, Federal Minister for Railway, Shaikh Rasheed, was angry over the indecisiveness of the government and slow progress in the finalisation of the ML-I project.

He said that planning ministry is creating hurdles in the finalisation of ML-I agreement with China.

You are not sincere with the project and have slowed down work on the project after IMF deal, alleged minister, the source said.

He said that in case the government failed to start work on the project, it will prove the biggest scandal of the present government.

The minister was extremely angry over the planning ministry indifference towards the most important project of Pakistan railway and demand of cost validation.

The minister said that the planning ministry has not yet decided about its framework and still wants to do the third party cost validation, which will further delay the project.