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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has constituted a 14-member Committee aimed at finding legal ways to create space for private sector participation in the business of power Distribution Companies (Discos), well informed sources told Business Recorder.

Headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the Committee will comprise Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (former Prime Minister), Minister for Power, Minister for Communications, Minister for Privatisation, Minister for Investment, SAPM on Government Effectiveness, Secretary Power Division, Secretary Privatisation Division, Secretary Board of Investment, CEO Public Private Partnership Authority, Member Energy, Planning Commission, Managing Director, PPIB and Mohsin Abbas Syed, Consultant, Privatisation Commission. The Committee may co-opt additional expert members for their specialized input.

The Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the Committee will be as follows: (i)to review the structure and operations of power distribution companies (Discos) keeping in view regional differences and to identify areas where the private sector can contribute; (ii) to study international models of private sector participation in energy distribution companies worldwide; (iii) review the existing plans of Power Division to create space for private sector participation in the management of Discos and monitor its implementation; (iv) to develop options for increasing the role of private sector vis-à-vis Discos with the objective of improving their operational efficiency, reducing losses, generating financial resources, enhancing overall technical capacity, transitioning to optimal energy mix, etc.

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The options may cover, but will not be limited to, privatisation outsourcing adoption of new management models, governance and decision-making processes. Due attention may be given to approaches that safeguard/ balance consumer and sectoral interests to maximize national welfare; and (v) development of any other recommendations in line with the overall objectives of the Committee.

The Committee shall finalize its recommendations after thorough deliberations and wider consultation with stakeholders (if required) and present a report to the Prime Minister within a month’s time.

The Power Division shall act as Secretariat of the Committee. According to sources, Federal Government has already offered provinces to takeover Discos established under their territorial jurisdictions, adding that only Sindh has shown interest in Hesco and Sepco. Punjab, KP and Balochistan apparently are unwilling to takeover Discos on one or another reason.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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