ISLAMABAD: Perturbed over the power regulator’s inquiry indicting distribution companies (Discos) of malpractices and over-billing in the provision of electricity, the Power Division on Wednesday constituted another ‘independent and impartial committee’ to probe the findings and legalities of the Nepra report.
The inquiry committee, constituted by the Power Division secretary to probe the Nepra’s inquiry report, will be led by former power secretary Irfan Ali. It comprises Zargham Ishaq Khan, who heads Nespak (a company working under the Power Division), Abid Lodhi, a former executive of public sector power companies, and Dr Fiaz Chaudhry, ex-managing director of National Transmission & Dispatch Company (NTDC) currently working with Lahore University of Management Sciences.
The Nepra inquiry had found about 14 million domestic consumers across the country to have been charged for more than 30 days by all the power companies, while millions of others had been over-billed through a number of other unfair techniques. Besides, millions of other consumers have been wrongly charged for defective meters.
This is perhaps the first time that action by a regulatory body into the performance of its regulated entities or licencees would be investigated by a committee set up by an administrative head of these entities.
Earlier, the Prime Minister Office (PMO) used to take notice of such revelations by the regulator’s probe and order investigations before taking punitive and corrective actions.
Sources said even this time the PMO had taken serious notice of the Nepra’s inquiry report, but the committee was constituted by the Power Division following a lot of interactions with the PMO.
Among other things, the committee has also been asked to examine and record the statements of the members of Nepra’s inquiry committee that finalised the report, besides the officials of distribution companies, and submit a detailed report within 15 days i.e. by December 21.
The committee has been asked to “review and examine the Nepra report, its basis, assumptions, relevant laws, data and information provided in and relied upon in juxtaposition to the data and information provided by Power Information Technology Company (PITC) and concerned Discos”.
The committee has also been asked to take into consideration any other data, information, document or instrument which is germane to and necessary in the situation and to do all acts and things that were incidental and consequential to that.
The committee has been asked to submit clear recommendations for consideration of the competent authority and also fix individual responsibility, if any, established during the course of proceedings.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2023