Planning Minister Asad Umar has asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to unveil the explosive power sector inquiry report to unmask those responsible for the destruction of the power sector.
Umar, while attending the federal cabinet meeting today, reiterated this demand as he deemed it necessary to avoid allegations of protecting the government’s vested interests.
He has been entrusted by Prime Minister Khan to decide the future course of action in this regard. Using his prerogative, the planning minister is aiming to take further steps to counter the alleged corruption of multibillion rupees in power projects established since 1994.
The report includes names of some of PM Khan’s current and former aides, such as Razak Dawood, and Nadeem Babar, among those investors who minted more profits than legally allowed.
The decision to publicly release the report first floated during Monday’s Cabinet Committee of Energy (CCoE), now headed by Asad Umar. Officials of the Power Ministry, however, disagreed with the idea, saying that the move might hurt Pakistan’s relations with some foreign countries.
To which the planning minister said that any step will be made after taking Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, into confidence.
The inquiry led by former Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Mohammad Ali has also revealed that transmission line projects initiated under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were 234% costlier than similar projects in India and other countries.
The report has identified severe problems in the Matiari–Lahore transmission line project which has a total cost of $2.1 billion and will transfer the electricity up to 878 kilometers from Matiari, Sindh, to Nankana Sahib District near Lahore.
As per details, the NTDC and State Grid Cooperation of China (SGCC) signed a cooperation agreement in April 2015 for development of 4,000MW, ±660 kV Matiari to Lahore High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Transmission Line. This was included in the priority projects under the CPEC.
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) after negotiations, accepted a total project cost of $1.7 billion in November 2016, out of which $1 billion was sided for converter stations. As the project started under the government to government deal, no biding was conducted.
It unveiled how Chinese investors largely benefited from the government-to-government deals inked under the banner of CPEC. The report highlighted that a similar project was started in India in 2017 by a Swiss company in which the convertor station’s cost was $640 million.
If converter station comparison is made on a megawatt basis, the approved cost for the Chinese company works out to be 2.34 times more than ABB’s bid as illustrated.
The report has recommended the federation to conduct a forensic audit of the transmission project and renegotiate the cost with the Chinese government if irregularities found.