ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Wednesday asked the government to enhance powers of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to effectively regulate the power sector.

The committee meeting, presided over by MNA Kishwer Zehra in the Parliament House, was informed that Nepra had no role in the appointment of the management of the electric power generation and distribution entities and, therefore, its scope was limited.

The Nepra chairman said that three steps — stringent checks on power pilferage, reduction of line losses by distribution companies and political will to implement the rule of law — were required to reduce the circular debt and to provide affordable electricity to the people.

He further informed the meeting that electricity generated by Thar coal, hydroelectric power generation and power generation through renewable energy would substantially help save the foreign exchange.

The committee also recommended that similar tariff on three-phase meters be charged as was admissible to lifeline customers who consume units within that range. The committee was of the view that irrespective of consumption, the tariff charged on three-phase meters was high.

It also asked Nepra to take action against Discos for not complying with directions and schedule of the load-shedding.

While taking up the matter of delay in establishing telecommunication tribunals, the committee directed the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecomm­unications to expedite the process and report back the outcome to the committee within 30 days.

The panel was apprised that establishment of the tribunals had been approved by the federal cabinet, but the Ministry of Law said that an amendment was required to the Telecommunications (Reorga­nisation) Act, 1996, to give effect to the decision of the federal cabinet.

The representative of the IT ministry told the NA panel that a draft of the amendment bill had been prepared and it would be forwarded to the law ministry for vetting and presented to the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases and the federal cabinet for final approval before sending it to the parliament for approval.

The committee expressed its displeasure over the absence of the representative of the law ministry from the meeting. The committee noted that the function of the ministry was to provide services to the government on legal and constitutional matters and administration of several laws also fell within the purview of the ministry. Therefore, it had been invited in the meeting for advice on telecommunications tribunals and closure of Abandoned Property Organisation.

However, the committee said, the ministry did not bother to take the parliamentary business seriously and no one turned up to attend the meeting. It directed authorities concerned to send a letter to convey disapproval to the secretary of law on that account.

The meeting of the committee was attended by MNAs Musarrat Rafiq Mehasar, Seema Mohiuddin Jameeli, Syed Mehmood Ahmad Shah and Mohsin Dawar.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2023

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