ISLAMABAD: The Centre on Monday decided to take the provinces on board on issues of royalty on gas, distribution of water and appointment of chairman and members of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda).
The decisions were taken at a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. It was attended by chief ministers Usman Buzdar of Punjab, Mahmood Khan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Syed Murad Ali Shah of Sindh and Jam Kamal Khan Alyani of Balochistan.
The meeting approved all conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Pakistan 2019-22 structural benchmark and performance criteria, including amendment to the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Ordinance 2002. Under the decision, Ogra will be empowered to implement the gas tariff to be set by it.
CCI decides to take provinces on board over appointment of Wapda chief
A proposal was placed before the CCI regarding issuance of census result/notification, but it was deferred due to reservations expressed by Sindh over the new census results on the basis of which fresh delimitations were carried out before the 2018 general elections.
Sindh had already expressed concern that less than actual population was shown in the province in the last census conducted in 2017.
According to an official press release issued late in night, the most competent person will be appointed Wapda chairman.
It may be mentioned that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told a press conference after the seven-hour CCI meeting that the chairman and members of Wapda would be appointed in consultation with the provinces. The chairman would be picked from the four provinces on rotation, she added.
The CCI meeting decided to form a committee for fair distribution of water among the provinces and a modern telemeter system would be introduced to know the quantity of water in reservoirs.
It was decided that the provinces would be given Rs105 billion under the head of net hydel profit to be adjusted by the National Electric Power Authority (Nepra). The CCI decided to launch the devolved programme of health and population welfare in the provinces to control the growing population in the country.
The meeting approved Alternative and Renewable Energy-2019 under which the provinces can make their own projects to meet the growing demand for electricity.
The Centre will make decision regarding workers’ pension and other benefits in light of the international practice. “We cannot allow our workers to suffer. I feel that this should be done at the federal level so that the rights of workers are duly protected,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.
On the issue of declaring liquefied natural gas (LNG) as gas or petroleum product, PM’s aide Nadeem Babar was asked to resolve it in consultation with Sindh.
The CCI approved the formation of a committee for expanding and interpreting Articles 158 and 172 of the Constitution relating to royalty on gas and abandoned and owner-less properties, minerals, oil and gas, etc.
The meeting approved amendments to the Petroleum Exploration and Production Policy 2012 and decided that on the issue of exploration and production licences or their renewals, provinces would be taken on board and they would be made partner in the process.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Prime Minister Khan met the Sindh chief minister and discussed with him issues relating to development of the province.
When the meeting was in progress, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said at a press conference in Karachi that the Sindh chief minister would apprise the prime minister of problems confronting the province. “I hope the prime minister does not only listen to him [CM] but also does something to solve the problems,” he added.
Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2019