ISLAMABAD: The government has once again transferred National Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (NEECA) to Power Division from Ministry of Science and Technology due to ‘pressure’ from the World Bank.
According to Cabinet Division, NECCA shall continue to be reflected against business of the Power Division in schedule–II of the Rules to Power Division.
In September last year, the then Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had given his nod to transfer NEECA back to Power Division from Ministry of Science and Technology within four months.
However, Prime Minister had directed Power Division to propose an amendment in the National Energy Efficiency & Conservation Act, 2016 to provide for a high-powered Commission as an inter-ministerial forum to spearhead serious energy conservation measures.
According to sources, World Bank while reviewing Pakistan’s energy sector had urged authorities to finalise Energy Efficiency (EE) Policy and National Electricity Plan, and the NEECA board should approve the Energy Efficiency Policy as soon as possible, subsequently to be approved by Cabinet and then the CCI.
Opposing the decision to transfer NEECA from Power Division to MoS&T, World Bank had argued that the decision taken by the Cabinet Committee of Institutional Reforms to transfer NEECA from Ministry of Energy to Ministry of Science and Technology needs to be reviewed, as this could lead to uncertainties in the implementation of the policy. The Bank had maintained that National Electricity Plan will improve upon the current practice of direct contracting and cost-plus tariffs that have historically led to high power costs and through competition will decrease power costs over time.
Interestingly the same Power Division headed by Secretary Ali Raza Bhutta had earlier agreed to the proposal of Science & Technology Division for transfer of the NEECA to that Division, prior to submission of summary to CCIR by the Science & Technology Division. However, a tug of war continued between the NEECA and Ministry of Science and Technology on different issues since Imran Khan’s cabinet implemented the decision.
Power Division, in its summary to the Prime Minister, stated that the matter of transfer of the NEECA to Science & Technology Division has been re-examined owing to certain fresh developments. The grounds for re-consideration are as follows: (i) Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C) is a part of National Electricity Policy, 2021 being mandate of Power Division.
Thus, the mandate of the NEECA on EE&C is aligned with the subject of Ministry of Energy (Power and Petroleum Divisions); and (ii) the main purpose of transfer of the NEECA indicated by the Science & Technology Division was different technical initiatives of the NEECA as specified in the NEEC Act, 2016 such as minimum energy performance standards, testing and building codes including the energy provisions are dependent on the Science & Technology Division and institutions under that Division particularly Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA).
However, as observed from the NEEC Act, 2016, the NEECA has vast mandate pertaining to EE&C focused on policy formulation and implementation, energy audits, data collection, surveys, inspections, awareness, surveillance and monitoring, etc., in different sectors of economy, which are distinct and not dependent on Science & Technology Division or institutions under it, except matters pertaining to formulation of standards requiring collaboration with National Standards Body (PSQCA).
Power Division maintained that globally, Energy Efficiency & Conservation organisations under government control are aligned with Ministries of Energy in both developing and developed countries alike as in the case of India, China, Germany, UAE, and Iran, etc.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023