On hold: Government halts process of appointing NEPRA member

Finds Balochistan-nominated man is facing charges of power theft

Zafar Bhutta February 27, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Establishment Division has put the appointment of a member of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on hold after finding that the man nominated for the slot has been allegedly involved in millions of rupees worth of power theft, an official says.

Earlier, the cabinet had approved the appointment of Quetta Electric Supply Company’s (Quesco) former chief executive officer Rehmatullah Baloch as member of power-sector regulator Nepra.

Later, it was unearthed that Baloch was facing charges of power theft worth over Rs20.9 million and his case had also been referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) - the anti-corruption watchdog.

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Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) sought appropriate action against him over failure to take action against subordinates for supplying power illegally to a steel mill. He was also removed from the post of Quesco chief over poor performance.

Now, according to the official, the Establishment Division is going to seek opinion of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on whether Baloch should be appointed or a fresh appointment process should be initiated.

The Establishment Division insisted that Baloch’s appointment was in line with the laid-down procedure. However, theft allegations surfaced later.

Balochistan had recommended the former Quesco chief for appointment as member of Nepra to represent the province, which the federal cabinet approved.

Earlier, the managing director of Pepco had written a letter to NAB Quetta seeking action against Baloch for alleged involvement in power theft.

In the letter, the Pepco chief revealed that an inspection team conducted a raid and detected theft of 733,115 units of electricity worth Rs20.9 million in the Spezand Sub-division, Saryab division, which comes under the jurisdiction of Quesco. Of the total, Rs10.6 million comprised government taxes.

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NAB was informed that Baloch, Manager Operation Baz Muhammad, Alnasir Agriculture Foundry Works owner Syed Abdul Nazir and son of Jalad Khan’s tenant Muhammad Lal were involved in the electricity theft.

The Pepco chief said they had failed to exercise their powers, which led to the illegal electricity supply, adding they were guilty of laxity over the conduct of subordinates which facilitated and encouraged misconduct and power theft.

Separately, in a letter addressed to Baloch, the Pepco head said he had failed to undertake post-event actions against the subordinates responsible for illegal power supply to the extent that Pepco management had to intervene.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2018.

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