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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Power Wednesday expressed its serious annoyance at the World Bank’s Pakistan Office for challenging the authority of the Senate with respect to selection of consultants for transmission line of Dasu Hydropower Project (DHP).

The Standing Committee, headed by Senator, Saifullah Abro, in its previous meeting had grilled the representative of NTDC for failing to satisfy it on hiring of Consultants M/s Sinohydro and M/s GOPA. The Committee had directed NTDC to share complete case of Consultants with it in the next meeting.

On Wednesday, Managing Director, NTDC, Dr. Rana Abdul Jabbar briefed the Committee about selection process of Consultants along with justifications to select M/s Sinohydro and M/s GOPA.

He stated that NTDC had signed an agreement of laying off with M/s Sinohydro on December 29, 2022 for Lot-1 of transmission line, which was effective from February 10, 2023. The contract completion time is 40 months.

He further stated that mobilization of advance request was sent to World Bank on January 25, 2023 whereas recommendations of Senate Standing Committee were received on February 7, 2023.

According to Managing Director NTDC, Minister for Water Resources, Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah held a meeting on hydropower project on April 3, 2023, wherein it was apprised that World Bank has already invested$ 900 million on Dasu hydropower project. At Dasu HPP site the Indus river has been diverted through the tunnel and the site is clear for construction of main dam (work on main dam is in progress on fast track basis).

He maintained that Senate Committee’s direction with respect to placing the contract of transmission line on hold was placed before the World Bank by NTDC at a meeting held in Wapda House Lahore on March 3, 2023.

The response of World Bank was as follows: “Senate is not executing this project and has not signed the financing of project agreement. Project can’t be stopped or put on hold. If Senate has any issue related to this project, it can request the Finance Minister for cancellation of IBRD loan then Finance Ministry can send formal request to the Bank for cancellation of IBRD loan, until then NTDC should proceed as per project implementation agreement.”

Reacting to comments of World Bank, as shared by the Managing Director NTDC, Chairman Standing Committee queried angrily “who is the World Bank to give direction to Senate Committee which is an extension of the House. Does the Parliament fall under control of the World Bank which will dictate it? Does World Bank run Pakistan or Power Division?”

When MD NTDC shared details of Consultants, ie, M/s GOPA’s international exposure of projects, with the Senate Committee, Chairman of the Committee reacted harshly saying that the Committee had sought selection process of Consultants not only of M/s GOPA.

MD NTDC in his presentation stated that 765 KV transmission line is being laid to evacuate power from Dasu HPP. First part of transmission line is from Dasu to Mansehra whereas the second part will be from Mansehra to Islamabad.

The Committee, with a very thin attendance, expressed displeasure on the way the NTDC officials tried to hide facts about the contract awarding process.

According to a press release, Senator Saifullah Abro remarked that the evidence submitted by NTDC clearly shows that irregularities have been committed while awarding contract to GOPA and directed the NTDC to submit all the necessary documents in the next meeting.

Moreover, the Committee examined the bidding process of K-Electric. Officials of Privatisation Commission apprised the committee that the process was initiated in 2002 and four private entities submitted Expression of Interest (EoI), but only two entities qualified for bidding process which includes Kanooz Al Watan and Hasan Associates offering bid of Rs. 1.65 per share (Rs. 15.86 Billion) and Rs. 1.01 per share (Rs.9.71 Billion) respectively. However, Kanooz Al Watan did not make the balance payment and K-Electric was awarded to Hasan Associates at Rs. 1.65 per share amounting to Rs. 15.86 billion, they added. Officials further noted that Financial Adviser was appointed by Asian Development Bank to evaluate the value of K-Electric and complete its privatisation process.

Senator Saifullah Abro asked that while evaluating the price of K-Electric, what factors were taken into consideration by Financial Adviser and directed the Privatisation Commission to provide appointment details of Financial Adviser.

The Committee also took stern action of recent increase in electricity cost. Officials of Power Division stated that as of March 2023, per unit price stands at Rs 30.55. Officials said that capacity payments to different IPPs is a major reason behind the increase in per unit cost.

Senator Saifullah Abro remarked that government should freeze capacity payments to IPPs keeping in view the current inflation in the country. He also directed the Power Division to provide details of capacity payments made so far to IPPs in the next meeting.

The meeting was attended by Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Haji Hidayatullah Khan, Additional Secretary Power Division Arshad Majeed, MD NTDC Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan and other senior officers of relevant departments were also in attendance.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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