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ISLAMABAD: Amid serious concerns of some committee members about the performance of the power sector, a meeting of the Finance Standing Committee of the National Assembly, on Wednesday, approved the SOEs Amendment Bill 2024 for removal of the Board of Directors by majority votes subsequent to a note of dissent by the opposition members.

As the proceedings of the committee presided over by Syed Naveed Qamar started on Wednesday, members one after another voiced concerns about the energy sector in general and the power sector in particular.

The chairman of the committee said as there is no agreement between the government and the opposition on the amendments, he would put them for voting but suggested the need for making the proposed amendments more

transparent.

Earlier, the finance committee was briefed by the Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar, and Minister of Energy Awais Leghari, whereas, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb was also present in the committee meeting.

The chairman of the committee after taking input from the committee members stated that as there was no agreement between the government and opposition on the amendments, hence he would put the bill for voting but also suggested that proposed amendments must be made more transparent because these do not have as much transparency as it should have.

Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar stated that amendment aimed to bring about improvement in the process for appointment of the Board of Directors of SOEs.

The committee was informed that there is a need to reconstitute the Boards of SOEs to align them with the reform initiatives for restructuring and transformation as well as privatisation of certain entities. Additionally, there is a need to strengthen the provision for the removal of directors under the SOEs Act, 2023.

The committee member, Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, asked about the parameters of the performance for appointment and removal of the board of directors emphasized the need for out-of-the-box solutions for the energy sector as it has taken the country to a point of no return.

Another committee member, Shahida Begum pointed out higher unaccounted for gas (UFG) losses in the gas sector and suggested that there must be a solid reason for the removal of the board of directors.

Minister for Energy Awais Leghari explained to the committee that there would be no role of the ministry in the appointment of the board of directors as it would be the prerogative of the federal cabinet, however, the ministry would give suggestions.

He added that the coalition partners would be taken into confidence about the privatisation of DISCOs and all the employees of DISCOs would be taken care of.

The minister further added that it is also the responsibility of the concerned ministry to allow the boards to function independently.

The minister assured the committee that the employees of all the DISCOs would be taken care of.

Omar Ayub said that presence of three federal ministers is a rarity and infers to some kind of urgency.

He said he had strong reservations about these proposals and added, of course, the ruling collation would pass the bill but the opposition members would not be part of it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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