Govt Planning ‘Secret Move’ to Take Over NEPRA

The federal government reportedly wants to take over National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to fast-track its policy reforms through the power regulator.

The government is finalizing amendments in the NEPRA Act to place its own man on top to paddle its policies promptly. The plan is in the works since the current NEPRA chief Tauseed H Farooqi met former Prime Minister Imran Khan without informing the Power Division, reported Business Recorder.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif formed a committee on January 13, 2023, chaired by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to review legislative improvements in the NEPRA Act. The committee was empowered to co-opt a member expert and review “The Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997 (as amended up to 2021)”.

The committee consisted of Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif, Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Industries and Production Syed Murtaza Mahmud, Minister of State for Finance Dr. Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Musadik Masood Malik.

The draft ordinance by the committee was abandoned after presenting it to the cabinet for unknown reasons. The amendments proposed can open the floodgates of political intervention by altering the criteria for the chairman allowing both serving and retired civil servants of Grade 22 or equivalent to be appointed with increased powers.

It also proposed to eliminate the 60-year age limit which can leave the position to one person for an indefinite period reducing any potential for innovation and fresh perspective within the power regulator by individuals holding the reins for too long.

Accordingly, NEPRA will include a chairman and four specialized members all of whom will be appointed by the federal government while it also includes the minimum requirement of 20 years of relevant experience both of which critics argue, is aimed at boosting political influence in NEPRA and can tilt its decision-making towards certain favorable power companies.

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