ISLAMABAD: ATThe Ministry of Water and Power officials, during a Senate Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, admitted that they were planning to buy electricity from notorious rental power projects to meet the electricity shortfall.

This disclosure was shock to many. PPP had to face strong criticism in rental power projects in the past and one PPP’s former prime minister is still facing the corruption charges in rental power projects in the top court of the country. “You people (bureaucracy) first mislead Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and others regarding rental power projects and then advocated that those projects would bring prosperity to the country. And now again, you are advising to go for rental power projects; will any body ever hold you accountable?”, Maula Bux Chandio, a PPP senator asked the officials.

MD PEPCO, Secretary Water and Power, and other officials of Ministry of Water and Power were present in the meeting.  Chandio explained that he was not pointing out anyone in particular but he was criticising the seat (bureaucracy).

The atmosphere became tense when officials admitted considering buying electricity from rental power projects. “Past government was lured into rental power and now again you are doing the same, why?” Chandio asked, adding what were the new circumstances that a project which was scrapped on corruption charges during last government’s tenure had to be started again. Secretary Nargis Sethi, known as Iron Lady, was speechless on pointed questions of committee for a short time, but after some time she came up with the explanations.

“We do have good as well as bad bureaucrats and we can only explain up to some extent, but accepting some proposal or rejecting it is sole discretion of boss (minister),” she said. “This new rental power proposal is different from last one and now we would buy electricity on new terms and conditions from the rental power projects currently installed,” MD PEPCO said, apparently to rescue his boss.

He said the electricity would be bought from only those rental power suppliers who were cleared from NAB, accept new tariff, (lower then the tarrif of IPPs from last ten years), and withdraw any litigation against the government of Pakistan from local or international courts. “It would be on take and pay basis. The payment would be made on the amount of electricity purchased and not on the installed capacity of the rental power project”, MD PEPCO further elaborated.

But, committee members were not convinced. When members’ criticism on bureaucracy increased Nargis Sethi promised the committee that she will provide all details of the past and present agreement conditions to the committee in next three days. To further cool down the atmosphere, Sethi exchanged mobile number with PPP former minister and promised of providing all details he had asked for.–Atif Khan