Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has sent the name of Khawaja Naeem to the central government for appointment as member of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) from the province, but he apparently lacks experience of the power sector.
Naeem is also believed to be a close relative of a top leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Sources told The Express Tribune that the provincial energy secretary and chief secretary had earlier asked the chief minister to avoid nominating Naeem and proposed the name of some professional. However, the request was turned down.
“Naeem is a bureaucrat who has no knowledge or experience of the power sector. Appointments based on nepotism and vested interests have already ruined the power sector and this new nomination will not only worsen the situation, but will also create problems for Punjab,” an official said.
Nepra has vast responsibilities and an important role in steering the power sector out of the crisis. It needs a member who understands tariffs, fuel surcharge and other matters.
“This is high time that both federal and provincial governments appoint competent and experienced professionals to save the power sector,” the official said.
Despite repeated attempts, the Punjab government spokesman could not be reached for comments.
The Nepra seat for Punjab has been lying vacant for quite some time. Before that, Zafar Ali Khan, a chartered accountant with rich experience of the power sector, had been Nepra’s member from the province.
At that time too, the chief minister had rejected the recommendation of energy secretary and chief secretary, who proposed the name of a well-qualified financial expert having long experience.
Instead, the chief minister nominated Farrukh Ali Shah for the Nepra seat and the central government issued a notification. At that time, Shah was in jail on charges of corruption and embezzlement.
However, after media outcry, Punjab withdrew Shah from Nepra and the prime minister cancelled the notification.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2012.