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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government should stop the privatisation process, in particular, of the electricity distribution companies and thermal power stations.

“The government should also reduce payments to independent private power houses. The ban on recruitment of electricity workers which has been in place for more than five years should be lifted. Protection of electricity field staff during the performance of their official duties should be ensured immediately.

The government should immediately withdraw The Essential Services Act and allow trade union activity, which is a right guaranteed under the Constitution, 1973,” PPP senior leader and former Chairman Senate Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said in a statement on Thursday.

He said that the government should stop the retrenchment of workers under one pretext or the other. He said that the government should check the constantly increasing prices of essential commodities and bring to book the profiteers and looters.

He said that the electricity tariff, petrol prices, and prices of essential commodities have made life miserable for the working class. They are forced to withdraw their children from schools and cannot afford a square meal in the day, he said.

Meanwhile, according to the sources, the Privatisation Commission (PC) has failed to find suitable financial advisers for the proposed transaction of power Distribution Companies (Discos) in one year.

They said that the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) in its meeting, which was held on January 4, 2021, directed the Privatisation Commission (PC) to initiate privatisation/ management contracts relating to Discos in consultation with the Power Division for consideration of the CCoP.

They said that Power Division indicated following objectives in this regard: (i) reduce ATC losses of each Disco to the level allowed by NEPRA; (ii) improve quality of services delivery and consumer satisfaction; and (iii) raising monetary proceeds is not a consideration.

A Working Group, consisting of representatives from the PC, Power Division, defunct Pepco, CPPA-G, and the NEPRA was constituted to develop a most optimal and prudent roadmap for the transaction. A team of professionals from across the globe was also engaged with the support of the World Bank to facilitate the process.

The Working Group studied various international models, for bringing efficiency and effectiveness in operations of Discos and proposed the Concession Model for eight of the Discos, whereas, Management Contract Model was proposed for Qesco and Tesco.

Sharing the details, sources said after approval of CCoP/Cabinet for engaging private sector in management of Discos, the Expression of Interest (EoI) for hiring of Financial Advisory Consortium (FAC) for the transaction was floated in the national/international press in September 2021.

In response, only two Consortiums showed their interest but pre-qualification Committee did not find them suitable for the transaction, which is not only multi-dimensional in nature but also requires an excellent undertaking of the dynamics of the power sector.

The sources said that the Minister for Privatisation has now desired that the issue may be discussed with the ministries of Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Development, and Power Division to explore possibilities of engaging reputed international parties for the transaction by soliciting support from donor agencies/development partners.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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