Ad hoc arrangements worsening energy crisis

Power ministry supervising affairs of power firms without heads.

Our Correspondent December 17, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Financial constraints are not the only reasons that plague the energy chain, there are ad hoc heads supervising the affairs of power firms who contributed to inefficiency and worsening of the power crisis in the country.

An official from the Ministry of Water and Power said that heads of power producers and regulator are not taking charge of matters. However, they were looking after the affairs of companies in the power sector which have not been able to control transmission and distribution losses leading to circular debt of billion of rupees.

Even the Secretary of Water and Power Nargis Sethi is a permanent Cabinet secretary and holding acting charge of the power ministry. During the last four and half years, five secretaries had been fired and Sethi was the sixth secretary, in charge of the power ministry to address the issues of the power sector.

It may seem like a surprise to many that three officials of the Ministry of Water and Power are working for the three key power firms – Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) and the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) – to steer them into the right direction.

Rs 4.4m

Ministry of Water and Power Deputy Secretary Musadiq Ahmad Khan is looking after the matters of the NTDC. He joined the ministry on October 18, 2012. CPPA comes under administrative control of NTDC which is being looked after by the Special Secretary Power Ministry Himayatullah Khan.

Himayatullah had worked as secretary of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) prior to his appointment for this job. He has no experience of monitoring the power sector but was appointed as the special secretary to look after the power sector issues.

He has been given the task to look after the Power Distribution Companies’ (Discos) recovery drive for billing, collecting receivables and bad debts, recovery from disconnected consumers and premises. He has also been given the task of dealing with issues related to the Ministry of Finance, especially financial matters and differential subsidies, payments to power sector and issues relating to circular debt.

Pepco had not been fully dissolved yet and joint secretary Zargham Ishaq Khan had been given the task to look after its affairs.

The government has formed the Genco Holding Company to monitor the affairs of Discos. Former chief of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) Naveed Ismail had been appointed its head in January 2012. He has been working without pay since his appointment. He had demanded Rs4.4 million per month salary which the government rejected. Now, he was demanding Rs1.9 million monthly as remuneration.

The power regulator – National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) – has also been also working without a permanent head. Nepra Chairman Khalid Saeed had resigned early this year and since then no new head had been appointed. Nepra member from Sindh Habibullah Khalji is supervising its operations.

Head of Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) Arif Alludin’s service contract expired in February this year. He was not offered an extension but he iss still holding the office as the Managing Director of the AEDB. Another institution, Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) was without permanent head since July and Technical Director NA Zuberi is looking after its dealings.

The Discos of Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan, Sukkur, Quetta are also being run by ad hoc heads that are looking after their affairs. “Due to ad hoc heads, the recovery of bills had dropped and transmission and distribution losses are on the rise,” sources added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2012.


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