PR No.126 Islamabad
A meeting of the Provincial Governments was held on the direction of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) with the Ministry of Water and Power on the proposed amendments to the NEPRA Act, 1997, chaired by Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif. The Chief Ministers of KP and Baluchistan attended the meeting personally, along with the Chief Secretaries Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. It was mutually agreed that the NEPRA law would be amended in order to assure efficient and reliable power system so as to improve the country’s energy security. This would require modernization of the regulatory framework, and developing NEPRA into an institution which meets the highest standards of independence granted to electricity regulators globally.
The representatives of the Federal and Provincial Governments agreed to measures introduced for strengthening the composition and regulatory powers of NEPRA, including the introduction of a better qualification criteria for the Chairman and Provincial Nominees on the Authority. At the same time indemnities for acts done in good faith have also been proposed to strengthen the decision making and independence of NEPRA, while empowering them with strong tools of regulatory enforcement such as the power to undertake investigations, and impose penalties for violations of the laws governing the electricity sector. These powers did not previously exist in the NEPRA Act itself.
Moreover, in order to achieve the common objective of the Federal and Provincial Governments to move towards a competitive electricity market regime, consensus was developed on de-licensing generation while at the same time making provision for licensing in areas of trading and retail of electric power.
In order to reduce the burden of litigation on the civil courts, an Appellate Tribunal comprising technical and financial members, and chaired by a former High Court judge has also been recommended, which is expected to provide independent, speedy and efficient relief to persons aggrieved by an order of NEPRA. For enhancing transparency of regulation to better serve consumer interests, the requirement of declaration of direct and indirect conflicts of interests by the Members and Chairman of the Authority, as well as the employees of NEPRA have also been inserted.
It was agreed that further discussions on the language of the draft would be held at a technical level for consensus building on the text of the proposed amendments, and include proposals of the Provincial Governments. The consensus draft is proposed to be submitted to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for approval under the constitution and will then be presented before the Parliament.