Islamabad-To ascertain the causes of cost escalation of Nandipur Power Project by Rs35 billion (152percent), the Senate Standing Committee on Power has directed the Power Division to submit all the details of the project to the forum.

The Senate Standing Committee on Power that met under Senator Saifullah Abro has deferred “The Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2022” saying they will consider it only if the Federal Power Minister khurram Dastagir participates in the meeting. The bill titled “The Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2022”, as passed by the National Assembly, moved by Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar, Minister for Law and Justice on behalf of Khurram Dastagir Khan, Minister for Power in the Senate sitting held on 18 August, 2022 and referred by the House to the committee for consideration and report was deferred due to absence of the minister. The committee decided to consider the bill only if the federal minister participates. The committee noted that the federal power minister has been continuously absent from the committee meeting for the last seven months. The committee showed resentment on the non-participation of the power minister in the committee meetings. “That they can show presence in talk shows on televisions but unfortunately can’t attend the meeting,” deplored Senator Saifullah Abro. 

The committee while taking notice of the cost escalation of 425MW Nandipur Power Project from Rs23 billion to Rs58 billion has directed the Power Division to furnish all the record of the project to the committee. Saifullah Abro grieved the monopoly of the power sector. While showing amazement over PML leader Amir Muqam sitting in Peshawar Electric Supply Company’s (PESCO) office, the committee chairman asked in what capacity he sits in PESCO office?  While discussing the pending payment of Circular Debt towards K-Electric, Senator Saifuallah said that at present, the circular debt of the power sector in the country is Rs2,400 billion. The committee noted that due to non-operation of two power plants, the treasury suffered a loss of Rs42 billion. GENCO Holding Company had to increase the capacity of power plants, instead of capacity building, GENCOs fleet was drowned. The committee lamented that the GENCOs production went down from 7,000MW to 2,100MW. 

While receiving briefing on the list of BoDs of remaining departments working under Power Division, The chairman committee observed that the members of the Board of Directors of the companies are appointed out of merit. “It seems like the CVs of the board of members has been drafted by one person,” stated Senator Saifullah Abro. The committee lamented the irrelevant inductions in the Discos and GENCOs boards saying that “If such people are included, grid stations will be destroyed”. The chairman of the committee sadly evaluates the standard of Board of Directors of Discos he said how come two members in MEPCO belong from completely unrelated field, saying that one member is running seven factories and a member is running a CNG station. The chairman of the committee said that only member of the MEPCO board is technical. Even a lower grade employee of the Agricultural Development Bank is on the board of the company, he added.

The chairman felt amazed on the profile presented of the Board of Directors before the committee. He dismayed that these are the reasons for circular debt losses theft and breakdown. The chairman said that the board has also included cash sellers and real estate owners. “There should be most capable people in the board, not the people of the market,” the chairman of the committee said. The officials of the Power Division said that the cabinet approves the board. Senator Fida Muhammad said that without the presence of the power minister, the issue of presence of incompetent people in the board cannot be solved. The officials of the Power Division informed that chairman of the MEPCO board was the head of the chamber. The chairman committee inquired whether he has any expertise about the power sector. The chairman committee further observed that there are two IT companies of one of the member of board who take contracts from power sector companies. The chairman said that Power Division should investigate the matter if it creates conflict of interest. It was also noted that head of CNG association of Bahawalpur has also been appointed as a member of the board. Similarly, a lower level official of the Agricultural Development Bank is also MEPCO board member. “Only one person in MEPCO’s BoDs is technical,” the chairman of the committee said.