ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Planning has serious reservation over the proposed amendments in Private Power and Infrastructure Board Act, 2012, authorizing the board to implement the public sector power projects, and may likely to demand to bring the PPIB under the control of the Planning Ministry, it is learnt reliably here Sunday.

The government wants to get rid of the planning ministry and amendment in PPIB act is one of the tactics to bypass the planning ministry as it is the only organization which is doing the neutral third party validation of all the public sector development projects, an official sources told The Nation here.

If the government wants to amend the PPIB Act 2012, it first needs to bring PPIB under the control of the planning ministry; the source said adding that this is the only way to ensure the independence of the PPIB.

According the PPIB Act, 2012, the board was dedicated as one window facilitator for attracting private investments in power sector. But now suddenly the government has enlarged its job description and, through an ordinance, also authorizes it to implement the public sector power projects.

First the government introduced ordinance, No. XVI of 2015, to make amendments in PPIB act 2012 and now they are required to get approval from the parliament. The source said that neither the ministry of planning nor the CCI was consulted before bringing the ordinance regarding the proposed amendments in the PPIB Act, 2012.

In November last year the president of Pakistan promulgated an ordinance to amend the Private PPIB Act, 2012. According the Ordinance, “In the interest of smooth functioning of the power sector of Pakistan and in order to enable processing of public sector power projects through Private Power and Infrastructure Board under the applicable power policies, it has become expedient to amend certain provision of the PPIB Act, 2012.”

For example in the amendment of section 2, Act VI of 2012, in the PPIB Act, 2012, it was said, “other than the Federal Government or any enterprise owned or controlled by the Federal Government” shall be omitted” and the following new clause shall be inserted, namely “Public Sector Power Projects” means power generation, transmission or distribution facilities constructed or to be constructed, owned, managed or controlled by the Federal Government, a Provincial Government, a local authority or any entity owned or controlled by any such Government or authority where such facilities are specifically sanctioned by Federal Government to be established under the applicable power policies to be processed by PPIB.”

However, now the government wants to get ex-facto approval for the amendments and to fulfil the formality they have asked the point of views of the planning ministry on the subject, the source said.

The expert in the Planning Ministry is against the handing over of the implementation of public sector projects to PPIB.

In the presence of other government organizations such as Planning Ministry, WAPDA and NTDC etc, involved in the implementation of public sector power projects, why it was necessitated to empower the PPIB? The source questioned and said, “There is definitely something fishy about it.”

Secondly, the source said that the decision will also impact the provinces but the decision to amend the PPIB Act, 2012, was solely taken by the Cabinet Committee on Energy without involving CCI and energy experts. Since the decision will also impact the provincial owned public projects therefore it was required to be discussed in the Council of Common Interests (CCI), the source proposed.

The other issue, with the amendment, was that PPIB works under the ministry of water and power and can never do independent third party validation of the projects; the source said adding that how PPIB can neutrally evaluate the projects sponsored by the ministry of water and power.

Similarly, the source said that PPIB is charging processing fee from private companies in power sector and if it charged fee from the public sector projects it will make it more costly.

To deal with large quantity of public sector projects PPIB needs to enhance its capabilities and enlarge its workforce. As compared to the planning ministry the salaries of the PPIB officials are much higher, the official added.

If the government has any problem with the performance of the planning ministry, it is required to upgrade its capability instead of snatching their right of evaluation, the source said.