Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Atta Bandyal says that the improvement of Pakistan’s legal system is a big challenge for us.
A hearing was held in the Supreme Court on the presidential reference relating to the Recodic deal, a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial presided over the hearing.
Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman and Makhdoom Ali Khan, counsel for investment firm Barrick Gold, appeared in court on behalf of the government.
Attorney General Aamir Rehman told the court that the foreign direct investment in Pakistan till last year was $280 million, the Rekodic project will bring huge direct investment in the country, bringing all foreign qualified investors in one window.
Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial asked the Attorney General why the government has come to the court to raise their concerns, why they are bringing investment-related disputes to the courts, to create a mechanism to resolve all investment-related disputes outside the court.
The Chief Justice noted that the biggest problem in Pakistan is the lack of business documentation, international debt has increased without the production of necessary resources. If the limit is not set, the proposed legislation will open a new Pandora’s box.
Justice Ijaz-ul-Hassan asked why no exemption can be granted in the Recodic project under the current law.
On the second question in the presidential reference, Additional Solicitor General Aamir Rehman argued that the second question is related to the conflict with the fundamental rights of the Foreign Investment Bill 2022, the provinces can amend the federal law under Article 144 of the Constitution. the purpose of the legislation for the Recode agreement is to secure foreign investment.
Judge Yahya Afridi questioned the attorney general as to why the government wanted the court to ratify the proposed legislation. As the Attorney General responded, asking the court to state whether Parliament has the power to legislate to protect foreign investment, the Foreign Investment Bill 2022 will apply to all future investments.
The Chief Justice noted that the government had passed the Financial Security Act, 1992, which was not challenged in the courts. Justice Muneeb Akhtar noted that 50 percent of the shares in the project belong to Pakistan, if there is a dispute, it will also affect Pakistan.
Supreme Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that we need to modernize and stabilize the judicial system so that foreigners can trust, there is a big difference between Pakistan’s legal system and the international legal system, improving Pakistan’s legal system is a big challenge for us.
Arguments from Makhdoom Ali Khan, lawyer for investment company Barrick Gold
Makhdoom Ali Khan, the lawyer of the investment company Barrick Gold, presented in court that the maintenance of the road from Nokundi to Rekodic will be the responsibility of the company, the security of Balochistan and Chagai districts will be the responsibility of the government of Pakistan, while the Rekodic mine, the Company will be responsible for the protection of the area and personnel.
Makhdoom Ali Khan said that 7,500 short-term jobs and 4,000 long-term jobs will be available. The company will lay a 680 kilometer long underground pipeline to Gwadar. And the metals will be separated from the water and sent abroad from the port to be refined.
The lawyer of the company said that one percent of the construction while 0.4 percent of the annual income will be spent on social partnership, transparency is ensured in the agreement, there will be no compromise with the supremacy of the Government of Pakistan and the Parliament, the foreign company If the concession granted is withdrawn, it will be made public, a section officer cannot withdraw the concession through notice, the company reserves the right to approach the International Court of Arbitration in case of revocation of concession.
The company’s lawyer further argued that the company will spend $240 million on feasibility studies, 85% will be paid to Pakistan as soon as the goods arrive at the port, and the remaining 15% will be paid according to market rates and quality at the target.
Makhdoom Ali Khan said that no other metals except gold and copper will be extracted from Rekodak, if other minerals are extracted, the procedure is mentioned in the agreement, if strategic metals like uranium and platinum are extracted, Pakistan will get them for free.
The lawyer said that Barrack Gold Company will pay the compensation to buy the plot, the road from Nokundi to Panjgur will also be constructed by the company.
Lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan said that a large number of legal experts from other countries also participate in international agreements, the government of Pakistan will continuously monitor the export of minerals, it took 3 and a half years to reach the agreement, this is a transparent agreement.
The court adjourned the further hearing of the case to November 24 after the arguments of the company’s lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan were completed on the presidential reference.