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ISLAMABAD: The Power Division and the Senate Standing Committee on Power on Tuesday joined hands to summon the entire Board of National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) in its next meeting for using humiliating remarks about the committee probing $ 800 million contracts of 765 kV double circuit Dasu transmission line funded by the World Bank.

Presided over by Senator Saifullah Abro, furious Senate panel members decided to move privilege motion against the Board, which has six members from the government side. The committee has recommended removal of Managing Director, NTDC, Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan from the Board as he is influencing the Board’s decisions.

Chairman Standing Committee also wanted to include the name of officials against whom privilege motion will be moved but his fellow Senators, ie, Bahramand Takngi, Dilawar Khan and Fida Muhammad opposed the move, saying that only NTDC Board members should be made accountable for using humiliating language and challenging the authority of the Standing Committee.

The Chair however did not allow anyone to mention World Bank, saying that NTDC is trying to hide behind World Bank, which he would not allow.

Additional Secretary-III, Arshad Majeed Mohmand, also termed the language used in the minutes of NTDC Board inappropriate. And read out the concluding paragraph of NTDC Board, which states: “In the light of explained position and national significance of the project, financial losses in case of non-completion of project, non-evaluation of cheaper electricity and the possibility of international arbitration expenses/penalty the Board has unanimously decided and recommended not to terminate the contract at this stage.”

During the meeting, Company Secretary, NTDC Azhar Saleem informed the Standing Committee that Chairman Board, Khalid Ishaq has resigned due to personal reasons. Power Division has initiated the process to appoint the new Chairman.

According to Board minutes shared with the Standing Committee, NTDC Board while considering the Report on of Procurement Committee on “fishy” contract 765 kV double circuit transmission line, made these remarks: “the recommendations of Standing Committee were discussed in various Board meetings.

Without prejudice to the merits of the case and purely on legal plane, the Board members time and again reiterated that without going into the merits of the case, with respect, the position and stance of the Senate Standing Committee is invariably confusing.

Perusal of one set of documents and instructions of Committee reveal that at one end It proceeded to terminate the contracts of Dasu Lot-1 and II, whereas on the multiple occasions it (Committee) proceeded to recommend to the NTDC’s Board to consider and take definite actions, eg, stoppage of the contract payments, cancellations of the contracts etc.

The Board failed to comprehend as to why Committee needs to send its commendations to NTDC’s Board, if it had the authority to do so and by exercising such authority, the Committee has already announced/decided termination of the contract.

Needless to add the members of the Board were of the considered opinion that standing Committee does not possess any such authority either to terminate a contract or to recommend/instruct NTDC’s Board to take any action as per committee’s recommendations.”

The Ministry noted that the audio recording of the procurement committee meeting could not be obtained as Chairman, Board NTDC has resigned and members of the BoD, NTDC have advised Company Secretary, NTDC to take a legal opinion on it.

It was further stated that a report prepared by the Board, NTDC was also presented which acknowledged that a few errors and discrepancies were found in the project however, they are not enough to declare the entire tender process as misprocurement.

The Senate committee expressed reservations on the content of the report shared with the Committee which also questioned the authority of the Committee to pass directions to the Board.

The Committee members argued that derogatory language has been used by the Members of BoD, NTDC for members of the Senate Standing Committee on Power, which is a breach of privilege of the Committee.

The committee unanimously decided that it has breached the privilege of the committee hence, the matter may be submitted to Chairman Senate for referring the matter to Senate Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges. The committee also summoned the Board, NTDC in the next meeting to explain its position regarding the report and non-implementation of the committee’s recommendation.

Additional Secretary Power informed the committee that Power Division is starting “zero theft, zero load shedding” campaign from Mardan (KPK) from Wednesday (Oct 18) as a pilot project which will be expanded across the country. Members of Senate Standing Committee have also been invited to participate in the inauguration ceremony.

Additional Secretary further noted that Discos recovery has reached Rs 25 billion as of October 17, 2023, which will continue to move forward.

While being briefed by MD, NESPAK on ADB project ACSR Bunting Conductor LoT -II A, the Chairman Committee raised an objection and said that in the previous meeting the committee recommended to share the entire correspondence of the project with NTDC & ADB, to which the Committee was apprised that a fire incident in September, 2017 took place and all files/records of EDB were burnt prompting the Committee to express skepticism and recommend to Power Division to constitute a Ministerial Committee and appoint an officer not less than DS level for further investigation of the project. The Committee recommended NESPAK to re-evaluate the tender process of ACSR Bunting Conductor and bring clarity within 2 weeks’ time.

Chairman Standing Committee also urged Power Division not to extend the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of Kot Addu Power Company (Kapco) as surplus power of IPPs is already available against which GoP is paying substantial capacity payment.

The meeting was attended by senators Fida Muhammad, Dilawar Khan, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, Haji Hidayatullah khan and Bahramand Khan Tangi. Officials from the concerned departments were in attendance.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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