Negotiations between various
government departments on important issues have taken a 'U-turn'. The latest between the
WAPDA Chairman, Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan and Hub Power Company (HUBCO) when Ehtesab Bureau
Chief has once again entered the field with sole authority to coordinate with all domestic
parties to the issue including WAPDA and take the dispute to its logical conclusion at the
shortest possible time.
This second time entry is on the strict directives of Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif. All parties involved in litigation with Hubco have been advised to provide
assistance to the EB.
Many ups and downs have come in the GoP-IPPs controversy which started
immediately after the present government came into power in 1997. First it was taken up by
the Ehtesab Bureau which started investigations into the complaints of kick back and
commission received by Asif Zardari who was instrumental in signing/revising agreements
with IPPs, including HUBCO and KAPCO which were found by the present government highly
detrimental to the national interest. The Ehtesab Bureau started its work in a typical
Punjab Police style of harassment and intimidation. This caused a lot of problems for the
government on the international. The bullying style and approach of Ehtesab Bureau marred
all efforts of Board of Investment to allure foreign investors to Pakistan and the
privatization programme of the government received a serious setback as no foreign
investor was showing any interest. On the intervention of the World Bank and the IMF,
Government of Pakistan had to withdraw the Ehtesab Bureau from the scene and appoint a
committee of experts from the private sector to resolve the issue. The committee
progressed well with other IPPs except KAPCO & Hubco where they could not reach an
amicable settlement acceptable to both the parties. In the meanwhile, HUBCO, as provided
in their agreement with the government of Pakistan, invoked the clause of arbitration.
Federal Minister for Water and Power Gohar Ayub Khan while replying to
a question in the Senate, confessed that no concrete evidence of corruption has been found
in the deals finalized with independent power producer (IPPs). "I am hopeful that the
matter with IPPs would be settled within the next few weeks," he added.
He admitted, while responding to a supplementary question, that the
government had withdrawn notice of intent to terminate the contracts of nine IPPs on
charges of corruption and slow progress. He pointed out that some of these IPPs had their
offices abroad and machinery was imported from there. The Ministry of Water and Power does
not have arrangements to investigate corruption abroad and the government does not want to
go to Arbitrary Commission unless it is 200 per cent sure that corruption had taken place
in IPPs case," the Minister added.
The government felt that the Committee of private experts was "too
slow" in its work while it required an urgent resolution of the problem as HUBCO had
served a default notice on WAPDA for not making payment for electricity supplied as per
agreement. The task of the resolving the dispute was entrusted to WAPDA Chairman Lt. Gen.
Zulfiqar Ali Khan. Perhaps his failure report has prompted the government to again hand
over the case to Ehtesab Bureau.
Sources at the Private Power Infrastructure Board (PPIB) told this
correspondent that the new turn indicates a major shift in the policy of the economic
managers who have now accepted the possibility of extension of the conflict in the
aftermath of the negative response from the National Power (NP), the major sponsor of the
Hub Power Company (Hubco) and Kot Addu Power Company (Kapco).
A letter has been written by Prime Minister's Secretariat to Wapda,
PPIB, ministry of water and power and all other concerned asking them to provide
assistance to the EB in dealing with the matter.
The letter has directed that a representative of Wapda should be
available to the EB for assisting it in obtaining the required information from the
authority, especially for lawyers already, dealing with the case and for a private
consultant of Wapda on energy, Enerpo. The basic responsibility of this representative
would be sharing the work-load, the letter added.
Moreover, it has also been directed that a high level representative of
the ministry of water and power should be available for co-ordination, particularly
through the PPIB.
Wapda Chairman has been directed by the EB to nominate a senior officer
of the Wapda Private Power Office who is currently dealing with the matter, as the
representative. Moreover, a senior joint secretary from the ministry of water and power
has also been directed to assist the EB in this matter. While dealing with the corruption
issues of Hubco, the EB was co-ordinating with Wapda, Private Power Infrastructure Board
(PPIB), international and local law firms, private energy consultants Enerpo and ministry
of water and power.