It has been directed by the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) take immediate action to address the concerns of power outages and over-billing that have arisen.
The meeting, which was convened at the Parliament House on Tuesday under the supervision of Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad, was briefed on the workings and performance of the National Petroleum Corporation and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.
The representatives from the Nepra informed the committee that the authority’s losses had been reduced from 40% to 21% as a result of the restructuring.
The committee members expressed dissatisfaction with the poor performance of officials from the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda). Senator Khalida Ateeb expressed her displeasure with the increase in electricity rates, claiming that it has resulted in additional misery for the average citizen.
Power outages and transformer malfunctions were also extensively reviewed by the committee’s members during their meeting.
The chairman of the committee asked the officials of the National Electric Power Authority to produce a report within a fortnight on the actions made on overbilling and transformer maintenance in order to solve the problems as soon as possible.
In addition, he encouraged the chairman of the Nepra to enhance the performance of his department.
The public petition pertaining to the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation was also brought up for discussion during the meeting.
Its principal function as a legislative oversight committee, according to the committee’s chairman, is to help government departments in providing service and delivery to the general public.
A formal website has been developed to allow people to lodge online complaints, according to the chairman of the Ogra, who briefed the committee members on the process of resolving complaints and other enforcement efforts.
Furthermore, he stated that phone calls can be used to register complaints, which are received by the registrar of the appropriate province and submitted to the delegatory officer. He went on to say that the matter would be settled within 90 days.
On behalf of the committee, it was informed that a total of 2,763 million complaints had been resolved. The chairman of the Ogra also stated that a total of 1,566 complaints had been received through the Pakistan Citizens Portal, of which 1,389 had been handled and 25 had been submitted to the appropriate agencies for further action.
Furthermore, the committee was informed that 1,137 complaints had been received through the Clean and Green Pakistan initiative, of which 1,000 were connected to fuel oil and 137 were linked to compressed natural gas (CNG). So far, a Rs1.8 million fine has been levied on the company.
The chairman of the Standing Committee gave directions to establish a criterion for soliciting opinion from the general public.
The committee members and Ogra officials also went into great depth on the differential in oil pricing as well as the criteria by which the prices have been raised in recent years.
During his hearing, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed questioned the chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) as to the wisdom of recommending an increase of Rs10 to Rs15 in the prices of petrol and diesel, which was later reversed by the government, thereby adding insult to injury for ordinary people.
The anticipated increase in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the next two weeks is viewed as a source of severe concern.
The committee requested that the chairman of the Ogra submit a report within a week that demonstrated tangible improvements in the performance of his department’s operations.
After hearing testimony from witnesses, the committee was informed that, since June 2006, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority has been mandated by the federal government to notify the prices of kerosene, ethanol (10%), and inland freight equalisation margins (IFEM) as well as inland freight equalisation margins (IFEM).
The members of the committee expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the high-octane fuel is not available at a uniform price at all gas stations.
Senator Kamil Ali Agha stated that the average man is compromising on the quality as well as the quantity of petroleum products available on the market.
The committee was informed by the officials that 70 percent of the petroleum and 40 percent of the diesel used in the country is imported. A new refinery policy is also being implemented in order to address these types of complaints.
The chairman of the committee asked the officials of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to establish a method for monitoring and balancing disparities in oil pricing, misconduct in the services offered by fuel stations, and the use of contaminants in petroleum products.