Published Date: Dec 10, 2015
Call for minimising finance ministry’s meddling in power sector
The Ministry of Finance’s meddling in the power sector must be minimised to achieve energy security, as the current structure of inter-ministerial committee consisting of three ministries: Water and Power, Finance and Planning, and Petroleum has completely failed to deliver. This was the gist of the panel discussion on ‘energy security of Pakistan’, organised by SDPI here on Wednesday.
Former Secretary Petroleum Dr Gulfraz Ahmed was of the view that there was a need of a fully autonomous energy minister without any interference from the finance division for timely completion of the planned energy projects to get the country out of the energy insecurity.
He added the government must pay attention to improve the governance of distribution companies, reduce theft, and enhance recoveries because these measures were critical to reinforcing energy security in the country. He was optimistic that the country would become energy surplus after five years if the planned energy projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as other in the pipeline were completed timely.
He said that by 2008, the country was facing energy deficiency because no new project was added in the system. Dr Gulfraz said that Pakistan energy basket was economically unviable with heavy share of oil. Former Managing Director, Pepco, Tahir Basharat Cheema, stated that the present government had not shown any interest towards addressing the governance issues in the power sector.
Cheema stated that the Federal Minister for Water and Power had been assigned another important assignment, the portfolio of Ministry of Defence and the Secretary was not a secretary but Secretary in-charge Water and Power while many other enablement of 22-scale were also eyeing for the slot. Another important organ of Water and Power, Pepco, was dormant and had no managing director from last three years. Moreover, he added that all the five GENCOs were also being run on look after charge basis. Similarly, he stated that NTDC did not have permanent head and was being looked after by a junior official.
Cheema said that none of the ten distribution companies had permanent heads. This was the governance of the power sector, he said adding that if this was the situation in power sector how it could be different in the Ministry of Petroleum.
Former MD Pepco claimed that only year and a half ago, the power policy was introduced through cut and paste job, promising reduction in line losses, reduction in electricity tariff to Rs 10 per unit from Rs 14 by 2017 and enabling legislation but the energy conservation act had been lost somewhere in the archives of the parliament. There was no reduction in losses and theft, rather the government had decided to recover these from the compliant consumers, he added. He said if the government did not address these issues, energy security could not be achieved in the country.