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Five regulatory bodies placed under ministries concerned

ISLAMABAD: Justice Javed Iqbal, who headed the Abbottabad Commission set up to conduct a probe after Osama bin Laden was found and eliminated in a covert operation by the US forces, on Monday called for the inquiry report to be made public and its recommendations implemented.

The former Supreme Court judge was speaking at a meeting of the Senate standing committee on interior held at the Parliament Lodges with PPP Senator Rehman Malik in the chair.

“Unfortunately a routine has been made to establish commissions after every incident and then put ISLAMABAD: Ignoring opposition from the provinces, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday took a major policy decision and transferred the administrative control of five key regulatory bodies to the respective ministries, apparently compromising their relative independence under the cabinet division.

“In terms of Rule 3(3) of the Rules of Business, 1973 the prime minister has been pleased to transfer control of following regulatory authorities from cabinet division to the divisions mentioned against below each name,” said a notification.

The notification issued by the cabinet division said the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) had been given under the control of the Water and Power division, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) under the Petroleum and Natural Resources division, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) under the Information Technology and Telecom division and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) under the Finance Division.

These regulatory bodies were given under the cabinet division by various governments in the past to ensure that they enjoyed independence in decision-making instead of being subservient to the ministries for routine administrative issues like approval of leave, visits abroad and appointments.
Opposition from Sindh, KP ignored

According to sources, the decision was the result of the resistance two key regulators — Nepra and Ogra — had been showing in implementing directives of the relevant ministries on matters of public interest, particularly tariff issues.

The ministries of water and power and petroleum had been regularly complaining to the prime minister about these regulators, the sources said.

It was particularly pointed out that without changing the regulatory environment, the Nandipur power project and Sahiwal coal-fired project would never become economically viable and the regulators would not allow higher system losses in electricity and gas distribution to be passed on to the consumers. Likewise, major energy projects would continue to face challenges, putting into question the government’s commitment of ending energy shortfall by 2018, it was feared.

Therefore, the subject of transfer of administrative control of the regulators was first put on the agenda of the Dec 16 meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) but was opposed in writing by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister who said the critical matter of public importance, having far-reaching consequences for his province, should not be decided upon in haste and should be withdrawn from the agenda.

The sources said the summary was officially withdrawn from the agenda. The issue was nevertheless taken up through a presentation, despite not being on the agenda, and the proposal was opposed by the Sindh and KP governments. The provinces were told to study the proposals that entailed comprehensive amendments to the respective law and that the issue would be formally taken up for a decision in the next CCI meeting after input from legal experts.

Meanwhile, the prime minister was advised that he had the powers under the rules of business to take decisions on the issues relating to “allocation of business/charge or responsibilities” of the federal ministries under Rule 3(3) of the Rules of Business, 1973 while matters relating to “transactions” of the federal government could be decided by the cabinet, the CCI or parliament, as the case might be.

Under Rule 3(3), “The business of government shall be distributed among the divisions in the manner indicated in Schedule II: provided that the distribution of business or the constitution of the division may be modified from time to time by the prime minister”.

As a consequence, the five regulatory bodies were removed from Entry 53 of the Cabinet Division’s Schedule II and placed under the respective ministries.

However, matters of transactional nature would still need further amendments to the rules of business. Therefore, “necessary amendments in the Rules of Business, 1973 will be made accordingly,” the notification said.

courtesy : dawn news

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