ISLAMABAD: In return for greater control of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority under an amended Nepra law, the federal government conceded on Tuesday that the right to generate electricity, transmit and distribute it be devolved to the provinces.
The agreement was reached at a meeting presided over by Water and Power Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif and attended by chief ministers of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and chief secretaries of Punjab and Balochistan.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah told journalists after the meeting that under Article 157 of the Constitution, the provinces had the powers to set up electricity generating units, transmission lines and distribution systems and to determine tariff for distribution of power within their territory, but this could not be “translated in the Nepra act”.
He said he had told the meeting that the provinces should be granted this right while the federal government was amending the act. “Our demand was that the Constitution be followed in the matter... Now the [federal] minister has agreed to this. I am thankful to the other provinces and the minister as they all have agreed,” he said.
Amendments to Nepra law planned
Mr Shah said the objective of the meeting was that all the stakeholders should join hands to overcome the power crisis. The situation had grown worse in Sindh where in certain areas people were enduring power cuts of up to 20 hours.
He said he had already taken up in writing the issue with Mr Asif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Another important area for his province, Mr Shah said, was the tariff for bagasse-based and other captive power plants which could be utilised to reduce loadshedding by four to five hours. But because “we do not have the said powers, we cannot utilise them”.
The power minister said that amendments to the Nepra act had been finalised after incorporating viewpoints of the provinces. Ending loadshedding should be seen as a joint effort because it was affecting the entire country. Hopefully the problem would be solved by the end of the year, he said.
In response to a question, Mr Asif said the people who stole electricity were present in all the provinces and that he had never suggested that such people lived in any one province only.
According to an official, the minister directed the authorities concerned to formulate tariff for bagasse-based projects within a month and ensure that the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company facilitated purchase of electricity from such plants. He, however, said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s chief minister did not agree that powers should be given to the federal government to impose surcharges under proposed changes in the Nepra law. Such powers should be exercised by the Council for Common Interests.
Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2017