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ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Power on Friday deferred consideration of “the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2022” due to absence of Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir Khan.

Presided over by Senator, Saifullah Abro, the committee expressed their anger over the non-participation of the Minister, Secretary and Managing Director, NTDC.

Chairman Standing Committee stated that they (Power Division and its organizations) are not taking the Committee seriously. He directed the concerned officials to summon MD, NTDC Rana Abdul Jabbar immediately and if he does not come, he will be called by force.

Chairman Standing Committee argued that one month’s time was given for the meeting convened on September 30, 2022, but neither the Secretary nor the MD, NTDC came.

“It is better to hire a good bomber from Waziristan and blow up the power plants,” the furious Chairman Committee commented, adding that if incumbent officials are not working then get rid of the Committee completely. Chairman Standing Committee said that the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 will only be considered when Minister will attend the Committee meeting.

Amendment to PPC Act: Power theft to be made more stringent cognizable offence

“We are not slaves of the Minister to pass the bill in his absence,” Senator Abro maintained.

Committee members maintained that consumers are overburdened due to Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The Committee decided to include the issue of over invoicing by IPPs in the agenda of the Committee both IPPs and the MD NTDC did not attend the meeting. The Committee maintained that inflated electricity bills have made the lives of people miserable but no one is being held accountable for this mess. Chairman, National Electric Power Regulator Authority gave briefing on cost of generation, saying that coal-fired power generation is around 65 per cent but price of imported coal has increased to $ 400/ MT from $ 50/ MT. Pakistan’s average electricity price is Rs 24 per unit.

“We are generating 10,700 MW of electricity from hydel resources with a cost of Rs 4 per unit. If there is no hydropower, electricity cost will be closer to Rs 50 per unit instead of Rs 24,” he said, adding there is shortage of gas across the world due to Ukraine-Russia war.

He said, no one was expecting imported coal prices at this level. Fuel prices have increased across the globe. Rupee devaluation has further increased fuel price in Pakistan. Chairman NEPRA further briefed the Committee that circular debt of power sector has reached Rs 2.5 trillion as of June 30, 2022.

The senate body was briefed about the implementation status of recommendations made by the committee in the previous meetings held on 2nd and 19th August 2022 respectively. However, as to matter regarding the inquiry against Tariq Bajari, retired Chief Engineer HESCO, Senator Saifullah Abro directed that inquiry report be presented before Committee.

In the previous meeting, the Chair also recommended that Board of Directors (BoDs) of all Gencos shall be dissolved. Officials of Power Division informed that ministry is planning to implement the scheme of 2012 under which all Gencos will be merged and managed by one CEO and Board of Directors.

Moreover, the senate body was also apprised about the expenditure of different BoDs for attending meetings and other expenses incurred in this regard. Arshad Majeed, Additionally Secretary Power Division, told that members of BoDs are awarded Rs.60k per meeting plus Rs.25k in lieu of hotel expenses per night. Muhammad Ayub, CEO GEPCO, apprised that they have reduced the allowance of BoDs for attending the board meeting from Rs.60k to 35k. Senator Saifullah Abro appreciated the CEO’s initiative and recommended that all other DISCO’s should do the same.

Furthermore, the committee discussed the public petition regarding the rehabilitation and energizing of grid station at coastal town of Garho, Sindh. Officials of HESCO stated that the aforementioned project is under HESCO five-year plan and it will cost around Rs. 3.5 billion. They further added that the petitioner Dr. Ghulam Haider Shah, resident of Thatta, plans to sell solar energy to residents of the area and demanded a construction of 30km transmission line from HESCO. Senator Saifullah Abro maintained that the said project is not feasible and decided to inform him about committee’s decision in writing.

Abro also raised objections on the appointment of Sardar Jamal Khan Leghari as Chairman of BoDs of MEPCO. He claimed that besides being the son of former President of Pakistan, what other qualification this person has. He recommended ministry to provide details of membership with SECP of all newly appointed BoDs of different DISCO’s.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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