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NA standing committee on energy accuses NEPRA for delaying reforms

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly standing committee on energy alleges National Electric Power Regularity Authority (NEPRA) for delaying the power sector reforms.

At the committee meeting, MNA Shehryar Afridi of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) alleged that the chairman of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) Brig (retired) Tariq Sadozai was harassing him.

“Tariq Sadozai conveyed threats to me through someone. This is unfair and I want to raise this matter in the committee,” Mr Afridi claimed.

Committee Chairman Chaudhary Bilal Ahmad Virk also observed that Mr Sadozai was using unethical pressure tactics to block the bill.

“I would request all members to concentrate on the bill as it is needed for reforms in the power sector,” Mr Virk stressed.

Though the committee was set to approve the bill but confusion and misunderstanding within the ranks of PTI delayed the matter by another week.

At the start of the session, PTI MNAs Mr Afridi and Dr Imran Khattak took an aggressive stance and said the ‘rights and concerns’ of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were not being considered by the federal government.

“We had given these 12 queries related to the bill which the Power Division was not addressing,” Mr Afridi said.

However, Power Division’s Joint Secretary Mr Zargham Khan and legal advisor Ms Natasha Jehangir presented records of various meetings of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and said that none of these questions were forwarded by the KP government.

“These are not new queries and many were cleared earlier but we can respond to these at anytime,” Mr Khan said.

After discussions with other PTI MNAs, Mr Afridi said, “I understand that Tariq Sadozai had informed the KP government KP that the concerns of the province were raised over this bill in the committee. However, we are not supporting Mr Sadozai.”

The PTI MNAs requested the chairman of the committee to delay the matter by three days so that confusion could be resolved.

Mr Virk said the committee would approve the bill on Tuesday next week. “You people, the members of this committee, Nepra officials and officials of KP energy may meet the officials in energy ministry on Friday or Monday and resolve the matter,” he added.

Later talking to media, Mr Virk said there is a serious need to introduce structural reforms in the power sector including Nepra, Alternate Energy Board and even the Private Power Infrastructure Board.

“What have these entities done to meet the challenges of electricity crises in the country? This is why they all fear that reforms will end the status quo and make them work,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Power Division officials said the regulator’s main objection to the bill was reduction in experience of Nepra members and establishment of a tribunal to file appeals against its decisions.

“Currently there are 1,438 cases in high courts against Nepra’s decisions, but these cases would be decided in a very short time if there is a dedicated tribunal for power sector,” the official said.

“Nepra is afraid that such a scenario will compel them to make sensible rulings,” the official added.

Regarding, the other objection by Nepra, the official said, “There is a need to reduce the experience of members in Nepra as there are many highly educated and capable young Pakistanis working abroad who are willing to serve regulatory bodies which have become parking spots for retired bureaucrats who resist change.”

The NA body also approved the change of nomenclature of Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) to Pakistan Power Infrastructure Board.