Consensus to be evolved among provinces on water, power issues: Asif

ISLAMABAD, Feb 10 (APP): Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif Friday said that consensus would be evolved on water and power issues among all provinces.
He was talking to mediapersons here after a meeting to discuss amendments in National Electric Power Regulatory Authority Act and the flood protection plan.
He said that significant progress has been made about the amendment in NEPRA Act and 10 year flood protection plan and  water policy issues.
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.
To a question, Asif said there was no disagreement between the ministry and NEPRA.
CM Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri said they have consensus with the Centre on some issue and expressed the hope that it would bring about positive results.
CM KPK Pervaiz Khattak said that he has conveyed their concerns to the federal government.
Chief Ministers of KP and Baluchistan attended the meeting personally, along with the Chief Secretaries Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan.