ISLAMABAD - Following the go-ahead order of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif regarding handing over Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, the ministry of water and power is in a fix how to materialise the ‘political statement’ of the premier.
Official sources on the condition of anonymity told The Nation that ‘political statements’ by the top leadership of two of the ruling political parties - PML-N & PTI - has put the power ministry in serious trouble. They said handing over Pesco and taking over the control of power utility by KPK government is not an easy task. It requires the consent of Council of Common Interest (CCI) and Law Division, besides the orders of premier. Even, power ministry prior to writing a letter to the chief minister of KPK pertain to handing over the control of Pesco to KPK government will have to get its letter vet from the law division. Law Division vet not proposed handing over of Pesco. They also said that the central government is the major shareholder of the company but, the Board of Directors (BoD) of Pesco runs the affairs of the power utility independently.
“The constitution of Pakistan, after the approval of 18th amendment, grants permission to do so but at the same time certain relevant laws are against this proposed design. However, the matter pertain to handing over and taking over the control of Pesco will end very soon because mere political statements by Central and provincial governments of KPK and to some extent by PTI’s Imran Khan cannot work as the entire process requires concrete efforts. It’s not an easy course. The power utility is the second highest loss producing power utility of the country and the federal government gives heavy subsidy worth Rs40 billion annually to maintain the power tariff of the utility in the wake of losses,” a senior official said.
Earlier, the government in 1994 had approved a strategic plan to keep pace with the existing environment and structure of the power industry of the world. And, as a consequence of which the power wing of WAPDA has been unbundled into 12 companies for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. Similarly, Peshawar Area Electricity Board was reorganised into one such corporatised entity under the name of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) with effect from 22-03-1998, with the aim of commercialisation and eventually privatisation.
When contacted with energy experts, they were of the view that privatisation is the only genuine and durable solution towards handing over and taking over the control of any power distributing or generating company of the country either by the provinces or by an individual investor. Handing and taking over a Disco or a Genco is a complex issue. They also said that the Central government at the time of handing over Pesco to KPK government will surly ask about the investment so far it had made to continue supply of power in the province besides raising voice about many more complex issues. They were of the opinion that the recent hue and cry will logically end with passage of time as both sides have so far given mere political statements to secure political mileage and did not pursue the matter in larger public interest. So, it’s easy to say that it is just a point scoring game and there would be no handing over and taking over of the Pesco.
Peshawar Electric Supply Company Ltd. was incorporated on 23rd April 1998. It was organised to take over all the properties, rights, obligations and liabilities of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). NEPRA granted Distribution Licence No.07/DL/2002 to PESCO on 30-04-2002 for electricity distribution in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa jurisdiction of PESCO.