ISLAMABAD: Former federal secretary Shaid Rafi has turned approver in the Karkey rental power project reference, a prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) informed the accountability court on Friday.

The NAB prosecutor during the proceedings in the Karkey reference informed the court that the NAB chairman had approved the request of Mr Rafi for becoming an approver in the case.

NAB had in May 2014 approved the filing of a reference against the ship-mounted Turkish power plant Karkey.

The plant was brought to Karachi port for providing electricity to the national grid in 2009 under the then government’s rental power projects (RPP) policy to overcome the energy crisis.

Mr Rafi was nominated as accused in this reference. The other accused included former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, senior Karkey office-bearer Babar Zulqarnain, former managing directors of the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) Fazal Ahmed and Tahir Basharat Cheema, former managing director of the Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) Fayyaz Elahi and other officials of the water and power ministry.

NAB says it has to recover $120 million from Karkey. Nine companies, including Karkey, are accused of taking an advance payment from the government for installing 12 power plants in 2008, but they have failed to provide electricity within the stipulated time, causing huge losses to the national exchequer.

The Supreme Court had directed NAB to recover the amount from the nine firms. The last Pakistan Peoples Party government had agreed to send two of the four Turkish ships, but they could not leave for Turkey after the apex court intervened in the case.

On Oct 30, 2012, NAB and the Turkish firm had reached an agreement which allowed the company to leave Pakistan after paying Rs1.62bn. But the apex court rejected the agreement and directed the bureau to recover $120m (Rs11.4bn) from the Turkish company.

In 2009, the PPP government had awarded the contract to nine RPP firms (both local and international) to provide electricity, but it had to be wrapped up after allegations of kickbacks and commission were levelled against PPP leaders.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2019