After performing under adhoc chiefs for almost two years, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority finally got its permanent chief after newly appointed Chairman Tariq Saddozai took charge of his office on Friday.
Born in November 1955, Sadozai is a retired soldier with experience of managing troubled KESC as Managing Director in 2001, for 5 years, under his belt. A graduate from NED Engineering University Karachi, he has been moved in from Pesco (Peshawar Electric Supply Company), where he was heading the distribution company.
The post of Chairman has been vacant from almost last two years. Opposition has been grilling government for not appointing permanent chairman, due to vested interests. It was alleged that government was dictating adhoc chiefs, and was getting favourable decisions according to the political needs.
Recent secret reduction in slabs for electricity consumers and recent lucrative coal tariff are two of the decisions which have raised questions regarding independence of the authority.
The reduction in slabs increased per unit cost of the electricity. The authority has also been criticised over its failure to reduce the line losses of power distribution companies and in absence of any technical staff or facilities, Nepra has been alleged as a stamping machine, which has been endorsing distribution companies demands whatsoever.
Nepra has also been reprimanded for accepting business tycoon Mian Mansha owned IPP’s request to convert its existing furnace oil power plant into coal, seeking rewarding tariff plan, under governments’ pressure. This rewarding tariff was initiated to attract foreign investors, who are shy to come to the country due to law and order, unfavorable laws and uncertain political environment.
The authority is also facing tough time in implementation of its decisions as power distribution companies get stay orders from court and the authority has no option but to fight lengthy legal battle.
Nepra’s decision to accept notorious rental power plants request for power generation also undermined the independence of the authority.
The newly appointed Nepra chairman has been appointed at a time when Supreme Court has given a dead line to government to appoint permanent head in all key institutions. Sadozai has a record of political affiliations. He reportedly got his high profile of Pesco by the PPP government reportedly on the recommendations of Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The officials insist that the appointment was not an eye wash and the job was advertised in newspapers. What happened next how the candidates were short-listed is any body’s guess.
The officials say a committee under the chair of Ishaq Dar recommended Sadozai’s name.