ISLAMABAD-The federal government has failed to complete the process of hiring new NEPRA chairman 90 days prior to the expiry of the tenure of the incumbent chairman of the power sector regulator.
Less than a month before the expiry of the tenure of the incumbent chairman NEPRA, the Federal Cabinet through circulation has approved the summary allowing initiating the process of hiring of new chief for the power regulatory body, official source told The Nation.
“In terms of the provision of Section 3(5) of NEPRA (Amendment) Act, 2021, the process of appointing the chairman under Section 3(2) should be finalized ninety days prior to the retirement of the incumbent chairman,” the source said.
The incumbent chairman is completing his tenure on August 4, 2023, and the government has started the process for hiring the new chairman on July 10, 2023. Section 3(2) of the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act (NEPRA Act),1997 stipulates that the Authority shall consist of a chairman and four specialized members to be appointed by the federal government. The present Chairman NEPRA, Tauseef H. Farooqi was appointed on July 31, 2019, and the four (04) years term of appointment expires on August 04, 2023.
In terms of Section 3 (3) of the NEPRA (Amendment) Act, 2021, the chairman shall be a person known for his integrity and eminence, having experience of not less than 12 years in any relevant field including law, business, engineering, finance, chartered accountancy or economics preferably in the electric power services business.
Section 3(5) of the Act states that the chairman shall, unless he resigns or is removed from office earlier, hold office for a term of four years and shall be eligible for re-appointment for similar term, provided further that the chairman shall not be appointed if he has attained the age of sixty years. The source said that a Committee was constituted to comprehensively review the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997, as amended up to 2021. The Power Division, being secretariat of the Committee, initiated the process i.e. consultations with the Committee and inputs of sector professionals, which is under way and may take considerable time for finalization & approval.
Therefore, a summary was submitted to the Prime Minister seeking approval to initiate the process though floating advertisement. The Federal Cabinet through circulation has approved the summary to advertise the post of chairman, NEPRA in newspapers to invite applications.
With the advertisement of the post of chairman NEPRA, the chances of incumbent chairman NEPRA to take second term has become dim. The incumbent NEPRA chief was hired during the PTI tenure. His term in office saw an abnormal hike in the electricity base tariff which has recorded an increase of more than 100 percent from over Rs 9 per unit to over Rs 24 per unit. Moreover, another hike of up to Rs 4 per unit in base tariff is also in the pipeline. It is worth mentioning here that hike the base tariff is the domain of the federal government, however, as a regulator it is the duty of NEPRA to recommend the hike to govt.