Power Division takes notice of deliberate delay in PPIB-AEDB merger

Seeks explanation from AEDB chief who is lobbying with senators

Zafar Bhutta February 20, 2018
PPIB was also empowered to implement a transmission line project. It had facilitated in completing over 9,000-megawatt power plants since 1994. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Energy (Power Division) has sought explanation from the chief of Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) for allegedly using political influence and causing delay in getting a bill cleared from a parliamentary panel regarding AEDB’s merger with the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB), which is aimed at providing a one-window facility for investors.

As Pakistan sank deeper into the debt trap, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) made the merger of AEDB with PPIB the core condition for its $400-million loan last year.

Following this, in a key policy decision, the cabinet, chaired by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, approved the merger of PPIB and AEDB in a meeting held on May 26, 2017.

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An AEDB official told The Express Tribune that the Power Division had found out that the AEDB chief had managed to meet some senators who were members of the Senate Standing Committee on Energy and asked for his presence before the meeting.

He, however, said during the last meeting, the AEDB chief was not present and therefore, the parliamentary panel deferred decision on the PPIB-AEDB merger bill.

He said the committee secretary had issued a notice to the AEDB head directing him to appear before the parliamentary panel in order to give a briefing on the bill. During the meeting with the senators, the AEDB chief had requested to hear him in a meeting bypassing the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) which pushed the latter to issue an explanation notice to him.

When contacted, AEDB chief Amjad Awan confirmed that the Power Division had issued him an explanation notice and he had replied to that. However, he denied that he used any political influence to attend a meeting.

Sources said the AEDB chief was appointed for a three-year term and wanted to save his post. They said he was afraid of losing his seat and therefore, he was opposing the merger of the two bodies.

They said he was also lobbying to become chief of the two bodies once they would be merged.

The PPIB was established in 1994 as a one-window facilitator for private-sector investments in the power sector, especially relating to hydroelectric power, thermal, coal and gas-based plants, through an executive order. It was given legal cover in 2012 through an act of parliament.

Later, it was also empowered to implement a transmission line project. It had facilitated in completing over 9,000-megawatt power plants since 1994. Around 19,000MW projects are now at different stages of implementation.

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The AEDB was set up in 2003 for the promotion of alternative and renewable sources of energy like solar, wind and bagasse and was given legal cover through an act of parliament in 2010. The share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix has not increased despite investments of billions in this organisation.

According to the Ministry of Energy (Power Division), the AEDB is essentially tasked with the same functions as the PPIB, which has been in existence since 1994 as a one window facilitation centre for investors in the energy sector.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2018.

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