Senate passes bill relaxing criteria for top NEPRA appointments

PPP senator had proposed that no bureaucrat above 60 years should be made chairman or member of Nepra’s board

Our Correspondent February 23, 2018
PPP senator had proposed that no bureaucrat above 60 years should be made chairman or member of Nepra’s board. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Friday passed a bill relaxing the required experience and age limit of candidates vying to become chairman and board members of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

The required years of experience was changed from 15-20 years to 12 and the age limit from 65 to 60.

The National Assembly has already passed the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Act, 2017. After the president’s signatures, the bill will become an act.

The bill was moved by Federal Minister for Power Awais Leghari. The bill sailed through the house and was passed unanimously after the government did not oppose the crucial amendment moved by PPP Senator Salim Mandviwala. He had proposed that no bureaucrat above 60 years should be made chairman or member of Nepra’s board.

Mandviwala also proposed to set the experience criteria for a member or chairman as 12 instead of 15 to 20, which was also accepted by the government. He also withdrew a few of his amendments after the aforementioned two amendments were incorporated.

A major change in the proposed law deals with creation of an appellate tribunal under a retired high court judge to refer back National Electricity Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) decisions for reconsideration.

Under the existing law, Nepra decisions can only be challenged before a high court. The bill has made issuance of wrong electricity bill a criminal offence and empowered Nepra to hear, investigate and award punishment to the guilty officials and refer the case to the law enforcement agency register an FIR against those officials.

Under the new legislation, the consumers will not have to lodge their overbilling complaints to the sub-divisional officers, executive engineers or other senior officer in any power distribution company as Nepra alone will deal with such issues.

NEPRA slashes power tariff by Rs3.24 per unit

Nepra will be liable to establish offices in all districts across the country where the consumers may submit their complaints in writing. Each complaint will be decided within a period of three months.

Senator Mandiwala also withdrew his amendments after the power division minister said that offices at the district level were the need of the hour to resolve the overbilling issues.

During the question-hour session, the house was also informed that as many as 1.1 million cases were filed in the Supreme Court and four high courts in the last five years. Out of those 81,492 cases are in Supreme Court, 697,447 in the Lahore High Court, 175,762 in the Sindh High Court, 99,806 in the Peshawar High Court and 39,327 have been lying in the Balochistan High Court.

Senator Farhatullah raised the question of land allotments to former services chiefs as post-retirement benefit saying that his repeated questions on the issue have not been answered.

Speaking on an issue of public importance he said that on Wednesday NAB arrested a senior civil servant in Lahore for allegedly transferring land illegally.

While Babar remarked that a former army chief was allotted 88 acres of land but the questions asked about legality of that allotment were never answered, apart from the issuance of a terse statement saying that the allotment had been that it had been done in accordance with the Constitution.

Chairman Raza Rabbani however did not allow any further discussion and asked the senator that he may raise the issue through question in the Senate.