Islamabad-Rejecting the AGP’s (Auditor General of Pakistan) demand to audit regulatory decisions of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), OGRA has said that, it contravenes the constitutional provisions as well as the Authority’s Ordinance and beyond the Auditor’s scope.

“Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) reiterates its stance that, Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) is mandated to conduct the audit of the accounts of the Authority, whereas the audit of the regulatory decisions/ determinations is not its mandate in accordance with the relevant constitutional provisions, as enshrined under Article 170(2) of Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan” OGRA said in a letter to Cabinet division regarding the audit on the accounts of the authority for FY 2019-20.

The audit of the accounts of the Federal and of the Provincial Governments and the accounts of any authority or body established by, or under the control of, the Federal or Provincial Government shall be conducted by the Auditor General, who shall determine the extent and nature of such audit, the letter further added.

The referred fact has been explicitly elaborated through the advice imparted by the Ministry of Law & Justice of Pakistan vide its letter dated 2.10.2019. Further, there is no legal provision under OGRA Ordinance which provides for audit of regulatory functions of OGRA by AGP. In terms of Section 13 of OGRA Ordinance 2002, only OGRA Authority itself can review its decision on the basis of any additional information or change of circumstances, relating thereto. 

Furthermore, OGRA observes that esteemed PAC vide its directives dated 10.8.2020 has only upheld the sanctity of the constitutional provisions and it nowhere directed that the regulatory decisions of the Authority can be audited assessed or evaluated to be correct or otherwise by the AGP, beyond the purports of Constitutional provisions and OGRA Ordinance. 

It is highlighted that PAC directives issued on 14th August 2020, endorsed OGRA’s view that “AGP has the jurisdiction to conduct their (regulatory authorities-words added) audit”, which is limited to the audit of accounts and financial performance, in consonance of the constitutional provisions. However, AGP’s demand to audit regulatory decisions of OGRA is beyond the scope of AGP and contravenes the constitutional provisions as well as OGRRA Ordinance.

As reflected in its letter dated 16.9.2020 AGP continues to hold that Law & Justice Division’s opinion has been superseded by the aforesaid directives of the PAC dated 10.8.20 and that it has binding impact. OGRA is firm about the sanctity of OGRA Ordinance 2002 backed by the Constitution which retains its inherent supremacy over any conflicting decision taken by the institutions established there under. Since a clear difference of opinion has emerged between the interpretation of AGP and Law & Justice Division. OGRA, therefore, is left with no easy option but request the Cabinet Division to seek legal opinion from Law & Justice Division again so that this controversy may be put to rest once and for all, the letter maintained.