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Opposition, govt disagree over Nepra appointments

By Ikram Junaidi 2019-07-26
ISLAMABAD: The senators belonging to opposition parties have opposed a bill suggesting that the federal government should be empowered to appoint the chairman and members of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Thursday, the opposition lawmakers were of the view that the members should be nominated by the provinces because otherwise all (four) members would be appointed from one province.

Leader of the House in the Senate Syed Shibli Faraz had moved the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment)Bill, 2019, on May 13 and it was later referred to the committee.

Briefing the committee on the bill, Mr Faraz regretted that it was observed that irrelevant personalities were nominated as members of Nepra.

`Some of the members had no experience for the post. I have suggested that the chairman and members should be nominated by the federal government and minimum experience, in relevant field, to become a member should be reduced from 12 years to 10 years. Moreover, they [members] should have qualification in relevant field.

Members should be appointed as member finance, member technical, member law and member admin. The minimum age forthe appointment should be 45,` he said.

Senator Javed Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said that there should be no compromise on qualification, but all provinces should be given representation in Nepra.

`Because of the bill all four members can be appointed from one province. I believe that the authority would become dysfunctional or irrelevant if there was no representation from all provinces,` he said.

Pakistan Peoples Party`s Senator Rubina Khalid and National Party`s Dr Ashok Kumar agreed with Mr Abbasi.

Committee`s chairman Talha Mahmood said the bill`s language should be made legal and it should be sent to the Law Division to look into it and submit a report.

After the meeting, Mr Faraz told Dawn that while working in the energy sector he had observed that there was no merit in the appointments of members of Nepra.

`I have tabled the bill so that Nepra could also be made a regulatory body just like the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority. I have observed that here [in Nepra] friends are accommodated by being appointed as members who know nothing about Nepra and depend on third-tier officers for all the decisions,` he said.

`The seat of Nepra chairman has been vacant for almost eight months, so I have suggested that the process of appointment of a new chairman should be initiated at least six months before the retirement of the incumbent chief,` he said.

In reply to a question, Mr Faraz said that he was not against the provinces but only tried to ensure that qualified persons were be appointed as members of Nepra.