Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will chair the first Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting to be held in Islamabad today (Tuesday) and take all stakeholders into confidence on a new energy policy.
According to sources, the energy policy and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout loan package are expected to dominate the proceedings.
Earlier, the CCI meeting was scheduled with the federal cabinet meeting on July 25. But the meeting was rescheduled since the Balochistan chief minister was unavailable on that date. Today’s meeting is designed to have a detailed input of the provinces on the National Energy Policy, as well as other important issues related to the provinces.
The sources told The Express Tribune that today’s meeting was going to be a test-case for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led government. It would be the first gathering of the top heads of federal and provincial governments and a hard talk is also expected on different matters.
According to the sources, the CCI will have a six-point agenda. This includes briefing on the CCI’s functioning, implementation and execution procedures, deliberation over National Energy Policy for years 2013-18, gas theft control and recovery draft bill, amendment in Petroleum Policy for year 2012, inter-provincial transfer and fiscal discipline, offences and penalties relating to electricity theft and a proposed amendment in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
As per the information provided by a provincial official in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, provinces are all set to take up the issue of non-implementation of the devolution plan in light of the 18th Constitutional Amendment. He said: “We are optimistic that we will get a positive response from the PML-N government; as in the past it had been voicing for the same rights during the PPP era.”
Sources said the IMF loan and its conditions, which also included increase in the power tariff, would also figure in the meeting. It is relevant to note that the government must get the IMF’s conditions approved from the provinces as ultimately it would go to affect the people of all the four provinces.
‘CCI would increase national solidarity’
Talking to The Express Tribune, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said the Council of Common Interests meeting would increase national solidarity.
He said: “Self-sufficiency in every walk of life is the PML-N’s government’s top priority. This self-sufficiency will be achieved in collaboration with the provincial units and for that purpose the prime minister is trying to take every political force on board on every matter.”
Rashid said electricity theft was a major problem that was causing the national exchequer a great loss and that needed to be discussed. “Electricity and gas thefts are provincial subjects but government is all time set to support them,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.