ISLAMABAD - A parliamentary committee was informed on Thursday that the proposed Nepra amendment act aims at strengthening the role of the authority as a regulator, to make it more effective so its power is neither under regulated nor over regulated.

Under the proposed Nepra amendment, the proposal for the establishment of an appellate tribunal is under consideration, said the Power Division joint secretary while briefing the 43rd meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Energy. The meeting was presided over by Chaudhry Bilal Ahmed Virk.

Power Division Joint Secretary Zarghan Ishaq briefed the committee about the performance of the ministry after its reorganisation. The committee was also briefed about the bills “The Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill, 2017”; and “The Private Power and Infrastructure Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017”. It was informed that the division of power between power and water division is under way and Rule of Business 1973 is being amended. A summary in this regard will be presented to the federal cabinet for approval on Tuesday.

Zarghan informed the committee that in 2002 the government had stopped the evaluation of Nepra which created a lot of problems including the issue of circular debt. He said that under the present Nepra act the action of the regulator against any company cannot be challenged. On the other hand, Nepra is not ready to hear anything against itself, he said, adding that in 97 percent cases it has refused to hear anti-Nepra posture.

To end such a situation it has been decided to establish an appellate tribunal whose judges will be appointed separately and where Nepra’s decision can be challenged, the joint secretary maintained. It was also informed that to d-license the generation, another proposal of open market, is also under consideration in Nepra act. The companies will require fulfilling the technical requirement; however, there will be no requirement of license for the generation of electricity.

Zarghan further informed that to attract private investment in power sector, Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) and Alternative Energy Board is being merged. In proposed amendment, Nepra is also getting investigation power which it was not enjoying earlier.

MNA Sheryar Afridi said that the provinces have reservations regarding the power projects, so the government is required to take them on board before taking decision in this regard. After detail deliberation on the bills, the committee decided to reconsider the bills in the next meeting. The committee also emphasized that the department may accord the approval from the concerned competent authority to implement the decisions of the committee relating to the requisite approval for enhancement of domestic gas connections to new localities from 200 to 300 connections and also directed that the ministry should take immediate actions on the recommendations/directions which were made by the committee in the last meeting held on July 10, 2017.

The issue of over billion of Rs14 billion in Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO) was deferred for the next meeting of the committee. The meeting was also attended by Minister of State (Petroleum Division), Minister of State (Power Division) and senior officers of the Ministry of Energy.