Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif along with Chief Minister Punjab and Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif along with others, at the inauguration ceremony of the first unit for the Nandipur Power Project at Gujranwala on May 31, 2014
Since its inception in 2008, and with a to-date expenditure of over Rs. 30 billion, the Nandipur Power Project has generated zero megawatts (MW) and is considered a failure. Recent reports suggest that Chief Minister Punjab, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, was able to appoint a bureaucrat of his choice to the post of managing director while the project was still being constructed. The management then ordered a fuel treatment plant that was insufficient for the needs of the Nandipur projects’ full capacity.1
According to Minister for Water and Power, Mr. Khawaja Asif, it was discovered at the end of 2014 that the fuel treatment plant can only treat enough fuel to generate 250 MW of electricity instead of the planned 425MW.2
In the wake of the losses incurred by the national exchequer, a new PC-1 has reportedly been issued, calling for the cost of the project to now be increased by another Rs. 22 billion; that is, to a grand total of Rs. 57 billion.3
On September 10, 2015, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of the scandal.4 The Prime Minister, in a letter to the Ministry of Water and Power, issued directions that the audit of the Nandipur project should be carried out under three terms of references: the audit of the total cost, the amount spent to-date and other expenditures regarding the project.
The Prime Minister has also ordered two separate audits — one by an independent, international audit form and another by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP). He also ordered an inquiry to ascertain why the plant remained closed for four or six weeks after completion and fix responsibility in the event of negligence.5
The AGP has formed a team specifically to scrutinize the Nandipur Power Project. The team’s mandate is to fix responsibility on those who played a key role in the project’s failure.6
It is the reasoned position of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) that the terms of reference of all inquiries into the Nandipur project, as well as their reports, should be in full view of the public and should be completely transparent. The AGP should also give attention to whether or not there were any independent checks and balances in the Nandipur project. An important outcome of all pending investigations should also be to clarify the process that was used to appoint individuals to senior management positions in at Nandipur.
NEPRA Annual Report 2014-2015
According to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) Annual Report 2014-2015 report released on September 14, 20157, the shortfall in electricity production in Pakistan is in large part due to a lack of maintenance at Public Sector Generation Companies (GENCOs). The report also states that Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have also performed poorly due to lack of fuel. Additionally, according to the report, 5 power stations in Punjab were not utilized efficiently, and thus not to their full capacity, while three others were retained even though they do not contribute anything to the national grid.
The report states that, upon inspection, it was found that transformers were operating at 80-100% more load, causing frequent tripping. Furthermore, the NEPRA Annual Report found that the Time of Use (ToU) electricity meters of nearly 70% of consumers were outdated and out-timed, which either overcharge the consumer or deprive the Government from justified charges. There is no mention in the report as to exactly how much this faulty meter system cost the government or consumers.
At a time when the Nandipur Power Plant was a complete failure and the country continues to be struggling with a power crisis, PILDAT recommends that administrative directives be streamlined, so as to avoid negligence and the lack of maintenance of power facilities.
AGP finds Rs. 980 billion irregularities in power sector in 2013-2014
The Federal Government is estimated to have injected more than Rs. 2 trillion into the power sector, besides increasing consumer tariff by nearly 200%. 8An Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) report has found embezzlement, misappropriation and irregularities of around Rs. 980 billion in the accounts of WAPDA and other power companies working under the Ministry of Water and Power in the audit year 2013-14. The AGP has asked the President to order investigations into specific cases.
PILDAT is of the considered view that the investigation be carried out transparently, with detailed reports issued for the public’s scrutiny.
Pakistan and Afghanistan only Countries with Polio
At a meeting of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in New York on September 25, 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO) removed Nigeria from its list of polio endemic countries. The WHO requires a country to be without incidence of polio for three straight years. Pakistan and Afghanistan are now the only two countries where the disease is still endemic.
Meanwhile, two new cases of polio were discovered in Pakistan: one in Quetta and another in Peshawar, bringing the total count of polio cases in Pakistan in 2015 to nearly 35 as of end of September.9
A child receiving polio vaccine in Peshawar
It is a cause for concern that Pakistan has not had three consecutive years without any polio cases even once. While PILDAT notes that anti-polio campaigns in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan continue to be affected by terrorism, focus on remote areas in both provinces should be increased.
National Action Plan Arrests Since Launch
According to official data for the National Action Plan (NAP), collected between January and September 19, 2015, a total of 45,464 individuals were arrested form the total number of those accused; moreover, 34419 challans were submitted after investigations in the courts of law since the launch of the NAP.
For the majority of these cases, summary trials have been conducted and the arrested individuals have been convicted as criminals. However, for the Hate Material law, trials were not practiced regularly, which stymied the conviction rate. The official data reports an overall conviction rate of 85% in the cases decided by the courts. The acquittal rate was a mere 12%.
Furthermore, the latest official figures on proceedings against criminals involved in terrorism activities across Punjab show that 3,841 convictions were made in 3,841 cases decided by the courts, while the courts acquitted 561 suspects.10
PILDAT commends the efforts of the relevant security authorities as well as the courts of law for upholding the National Action Plan. However, the slow progress on the curbing of hate material and speech should be quickened.
Prime Minister Introduces Rs. 341 Billion Kissan Package for Farmers
On September 14, 2015, Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif introduced a relief package of Rs. 341 billion worth of grants, loans and subsidies to revive Pakistan’s agriculture sector. 11
The package provides a direct benefit of Rs. 147 billion to small farmers across the country in the form of cash grants and subsidies on farming inputs. Additionally, Rs. 194 worth of loans would be made to the agriculture sector. These loans would be interest-free and be given to farmers with 12 acres or less to install solar tubewells or convert the existing ones into solar. The mark-up on the loans was set to be paid by the Federal Government.
However, on September 29, 2015, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) halted certain aspects of the Kissan package. The Secretary of the ECP said the timing of the introduction of the package made it a violation of the code of conduct of the commission, as it was announced very close to the upcoming Local Government elections and could, therefore, influence voters significantly.12
PILDAT notes that the ECP’s restrictions on the Kissan package had logical cause. However, its halting of some of the aspects of the program may in fact cause consternation among farmers, thereby influencing their votes regardless.
The Pakistan Airforce Camp at Inquilab Road in Peshawar’s Badabar area was attacked in the early morning of September 18, 2015.13 The attack, for which Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility, left around 30 dead and over two dozen injured; security forces also killed 13 militants.14 Five of the attackers were successfully identified and reportedly belong to the Khyber agency and Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.15
National Defense and Foreign Policy
The Indian Army Chief, General Dalbir Singh, stated on September 01, 2015 at a tri-service seminar on the 1965 Indo-Pak War, that the Indian military is at a high level of operational preparedness for offensive military action on its borders, if the need for swift action arises. “We are acutely aware that the swift, short nature of future wars are likely to offer limited warning time,” he said.16
The Army Chief’s words come at a time of frequent ceasefire violations the Line of Control (LoC). On September 15, a Pakistani solder was killed in an unprovoked attack at the LoC. On September 16, the Indian Deputy High Commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office and an official protest was lodged against the death.17
The total amount of tax collected by the Federal Bureau of revenue in the first quarter of the 2015-16 fiscal year (July-September) is Rs. 584 billion. This amount stands in contrast to the desired target of Rs. 647 billion, meaning there is a Rs. 63 billion shortfall in revenue. The FBR is required to achieve the revenue target of Rs 3,104 billion for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
It has provisionally collected Rs 253 billion for September 2015 against Rs 228 billion in the same period of last year, which is an 11% increase.18
While PILDAT commends the FBR’s efforts in increasing its overall tax collection, it should take a more proactive role in identifying and bringing into account major tax evaders. More importantly, in order to encourage more people to be registered taxpayers, the FBR should facilitate the process of tax filing by making it more streamlined and by incorporating the use of technology in expediting the process on an individual level.
Lahore High Court Orders PEMRA to Blackout Altaf Hussain’s Speeches
Lahore High Court has given PEMRA orders to ban all speeches by MQM chief Mr. Altaf Hussain
On September 07, 2015, the Lahore High Court ordered the Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) to ensure a complete blackout of all activities of Mr. Altaf Hussain in both electronic and print media. The order was issued by a full bench of the court, headed by Justice Syed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi. The order was based on three petitions submitted to the Lahore High Court. The petitions also sought action against Mr. Altaf Hussain under Article 6 of the Constitution, arguing that as a British citizen, Mr. Hussain is not eligible to be the head of a political party in Pakistan as per the Political Parties Act.19
Private School Legislation
The Punjab Government is working on legislation to regulate the affairs of private institutions in the wake of recent controversy regarding fee hikes and the lack of a mechanism to regulate private schools’ affairs. The legislation, titled the Punjab Education Commission Bill, will reportedly be tabled in the forthcoming session of the Provincial Assembly. Its main function will be to provide a government sanctioned check on the affairs of private schools in Punjab.
It is has been reported that a draft of the bill was presented to the cabinet in 2014 and was also given approval. However, it was never presented in the Provincial Assembly before now in light of the recent criticism.20
PILDAT commends the fact that the Punjab Government has now started to take action on the matter. However, it should not wait for overwhelming criticism before doing so and must always take into account the welfare of its citizens.
Google to Help Punjab in IT