Nepra blames dollar indexation, capacity payment to power plants
National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) said on Monday that the main reasons for the increase in electricity tariff are dollar indexation and capacity payments to power plants.
Briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Power, Vice Chairman, NEPRA, Rafique Ahmad Shaikh criticised power Distribution Companies (Discos) for dismal performance despite getting approval of regulator for massive investment.
“The burden of electricity stealers is being passed on to consumers who pay their bills, honestly. NEPRA had allowed an investment of Rs365 billion to nine Discos but they reduced their losses by less than half percent,” he added.
The Committee deferred most of the agenda items including two Government Bills due to absence of some members and Chairman of the Committee.
The Committee elected Engineer Sabir Hussain Kaimkhani as provisional Chairman of the Committee for the meeting as the regular Chairman Chaudhry Salik Hussain did not attend the meeting due to personal reasons.
The Committee did not deliberate “the Pakistan Penal Code(amendment) Bill, 2019(Ordinance No XXV of 2019)” Bill due to absence of some Committee members, who were opposing it in its present form.
Secretary, Ali Raza Bhutta, wanted the Bill cleared as it is pending with the Committee for the last two years. However, the acting Chairman argued that since some members are not present in the meeting, the deliberation should be postponed till the next meeting so that they can share views to further improve the Bill.
The Committee discussed “The Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill, 2021(Ordinance No. XVII of 2021(Government Bill)” after some sweet and sour comments of Secretary, Power, and some Committee members, including Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah.
The amendment is meant to amend the Ordinance passed in 2018, allowing the Federal Government to appoint Member Electricity and Member Finance of Appellate Tribunal for a period of three years.
According to Power Division, Federal and Provincial Governments have experienced difficulty in finding suitable candidates for appointment as Member Electricity and Member Finance for the Tribunal.
Power Division maintained that the amendments will add value to the process by enhancing the requirement of requisite experience and the appointment of Members Finance and Electricity and Appellate Tribunal can be made expeditiously to make the tribunal functional.
Commenting on the proposed amendments, Vice Chairman Nepra, Rafique Ahmad Shaikh said that Nepra, in its comments opposed the amendments on the plea that it will deprive the provinces of their due representation.
During deliberations on the proposed amendments, an unpleasant situation erupted between MNA Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Secretary Power Ali Raza Bhutta, after the latter gave detailed arguments in support of proposed amendments.
“Secretary is giving a Friday sermon. I don’t agree with his arguments. There is no dearth of experienced people in provinces,” said Shah.
Secretary visibly offended said that he would not say anything further without the permission of the chair.
Sensing that the situation is getting antagonistic, Mehar Ghulam Muhammad Lali proposed that the agenda may be deferred and the concerned members allowed to submit any amendment(s) to make the Bill acceptable to the entire Committee.
After detailed discussion, the Committee unanimously decided to defer the proposed amendments in the Bill.
Saifur Rehman MNA from Karachi complained about the performance of Karachi Electric, the connivance of staff with those getting electricity through illegal hooks ( Kunda) and the middlemen who make such things possible. He said, CEO KE must be present in each meeting of the Committee.
He also questioned the appointment of CEO Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Lesco) Dr Amjad Hussain and asked Power Division to share documents of his selection as CEO.
The Committee directed Power Division to pay the rest of the amount to the affectees of transmission lines before the next meeting of the Committee.
The issues of meterization and hooks in KP also came under detailed discussion. The Committee directed Power Division to devise a strategy in a way that those who are not paying Bills for the last 20 years show a willingness to get meters and pay their bills.
Corruption in installation of meters, transformers and bribe in fresh recruitment was also highlighted in the meeting.