The federal government has rejected a panel recommended by Sindh for appointing member finance of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) tribunal on the grounds the candidates did not meet the eligibility criteria.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the Sindh Energy Department had sent a two-member panel for selection of one of them for the post of Nepra tribunal member (finance). It recommended Asif Ali for hiring as member finance while the panel also included the name of Shakil Ahmed.

Earlier, the federal cabinet had approved the appointment of Zeeshan Shahid as member finance (MP-II), but he showed his inability to join the Nepra Appellate Tribunal, Islamabad. The Ministry of Law and Justice sought approval of the cabinet in a meeting held last week for appointing Asif Ali as member finance under Section 12A(2) of the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Act 2018 (Nepra Act) in Islamabad having jurisdiction in the entire country.

During discussion, the cabinet members noted that both the candidates did not meet the eligibility criteria. The Law and Justice Division secretary acknowledged that difficulty was being faced in finding the right candidate due to the provincial rotation clause and the pay package not being commensurate with the eligibility criteria.

It was informed that an ordinance to amend the Nepra Act was being prepared to address such issues.

The Law and Justice Division briefed the cabinet that the Nepra tribunal had been established under Section 12A of the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Act 2018 with territorial limits covering the whole country.

The tribunal shall comprise a chairman and two members ie finance and electricity. For the appointment of member finance, the nominee shall have the following qualification/ eligibility criteria: He/she shall be a qualified chartered accountant or a qualified cost and management accountant or a qualified chartered financial analyst and shall be nominated by the provinces or federal government, as the case may be, by rotation in the following order:

Firstly, the member representing the province of Sindh will be appointed. Secondly, the government will appoint the member representing the province of Punjab. The federal government falls in the third category for appointing the member. Afterwards, the member representing Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will be appointed and in the end Balochistan will get its member elected. The member (finance) of the appellate tribunal shall be appointed for a period of three years on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed.

A person attaining the age of 60 shall not be appointed as member finance and electricity provided further that no person shall be eligible to be member electricity, if in case of being civil servant, they hold a position which is less than BPS-21 or equivalent.

No person shall be appointed a member of the appellate tribunal unless he is a citizen of Pakistan and such member shall be employed on a full-time basis.

No person shall be appointed a member of the appellate tribunal unless he has at least a masters or professional degree or qualification from an accredited university and at least 15 years of professional work experience. He has no past record of criminal conviction, other than for minor offences; and has no past record of any specific activities or conduct that could reasonably call into question his ability to discharge his duties as a member of the appellate tribunal.

The cabinet considered a summary titled “Appointment of Member (Finance) in the Appellate Tribunal under Section 12A of the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Act 2018 (Nepra Act)”.

Though it did not approve the proposal, the cabinet directed that the ordinance to amend the Nepra Act be submitted to the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) within one week.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2021.

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