ISLAMABAD - Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders (ICST) on Sunday said cancellation and suspension of critical loans by international lenders should be probed.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has delayed the approval of a third loan tranche worth $300 million after the government put energy sector reforms on the backburner which is frustrating, it said. The loan was critical for the country as official foreign currency reserves have started depleting to hit level of $18.36 billion, said ICST Patron Shahid Rasheed Butt.

He said that the third tranche was part of a five-year $1.6-billion package to make energy sector self-reliant. He said that the bureaucracy of Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water and Power, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Private Power Infrastructure Board and NEPRA should be taken to the task as delayed reforms have pushed circular debt to Rs662 billion by June 2016.

He said that two days earlier the World Bank has also cancelled loan worth $100 million which was supposed to improve gas infrastructure. The loan was cancelled due to lack of interest of the officials of SSGC which must be probed. The project was to be carried in Karachi, interior Sindh and Balochistan to improve supply of natural gas by reducing physical and commercial losses. The failure of the project led to its closure which will increase the level of unaccounted for gas (UFG) continuing to drain the precious natural resource.

Cancellation and suspension of loans shows lack of interest on the part of officials concerned which is against the national interests, he added.