ISLAMABAD - A Senate panel yesterday termed the placement of five regulatory authorities under the jurisdiction of line ministries a sheer violation of Constitution and recommended that these bodies should be placed under the domain of Council of Common Interests (CCI).

Chairman of the Senate committee Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmad Muhammad Shahi, presiding over the meeting, lamented the non-establishment of a permanent secretariat for the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and said it was affecting adversely work of the CCI.

Senator Kabeer said the secretariat should be established as early as possible and the regulatory authorities should be placed under the domain of CCI.

It is relevant to mention here that the federal government, last month, had unilaterally transferred the administrative control of the five regulatory authorities from the cabinet division to their concerned ministries/ divisions. The five regulatory bodies that were transferred under the control of the line ministries included National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) which was transferred to the Water and Power Division, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) was transferred to the Petroleum and Natural Resources Division, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Frequency Allocation Board were transferred to the Information Technology and Telecom Division and Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) was transferred to the Finance Division.

The Senate’s Functional Committee on Devolution termed the move of placement of regulatory authorities against the Constitution and recommended that the regulatory authorities should be autonomous exercising independence. Members of the committee expressed grave concern over the placement of these bodies under the control of line ministries and said that it will hurt the consumers and the devolution plan.

Chairman of the committee remarked that creation of a permanent cecretariat of the CCI would enable the forum to play its constitutional role effectively and there was dire need to act seriously in this regard. 

Senator Muhammad Usman Kakar pointed out that federal government was not sincere and serious in implementing the devolution plan in letter and spirit. The government was using delaying tactics in implementation on the 18th Amendment. He reiterated his resolve to make every effort for true implementation of the devolution plan. He proposed that the subject of devolution should be a part of the CCI agenda on permanent basis to ensure its proper implementation. 

Senator Sassui Palijo observed that the decision was against the spirit of the Constitution and the government should review this process. She said that deliberate attempts were being made to undermine the true spirit of 18th Constitutional Amendment and Parliament was kept in the dark while taking decision on an important issue.

Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi also protested the move and said that it was a grave violation of the Constitution. Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq defended the decision of the government and said the government was sincere to implement the devolution plan. 

Senator Ilyas Ahmad Bilour stated that ruling janta was trying to roll back 18th Constitutional Amendment. He vowed to stop every move aimed at rolling back the 18th Amendment.

Senators Taj Haider, Saif Ali Khan, Nisar Muhammad Khan and Kamil Ali Agha also apprised the committee of their point of view on the issue. About establishment of the Ogra offices in Quetta and Peshawar, Senator Usman Kakar said it was agreed in Karachi meeting with Ogra authorities that they will establish offices in all the four provinces. Ogra offices were established in Karachi and Lahore but Quetta and Peshawar was ignored.

The Ogra officials assured that they will establish Ogra offices in Quetta and Peshawar within three months.

Heads of regulatory bodies including Nepra, Ogra, PTA and PPRA also apprised the committee about their stance on the decision taken by the government.

The committee meeting was attended by Senators Taj Haider, Saif Ali Khan, Nisar Muhammad Khan, Kamil Ali Agha, Maulana Attaur Rehman, Col (R) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Ilyas Ahmed Bilour, Sassui Palijo, Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar and Ayesha Raza Farooq, besides senior officers of the ministries, regulatory authorities and other attached departments.