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CCI meeting: Centre to cut provinces’ power dues at source

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ISLAMABAD: The centre and provinces on Thursday agreed upon a mechanism to resolve the outstanding issue of power sector arrears, with the federal government claiming the federating units’ consent to deduct in advance a portion from their share of power charges as a federal tax.

HunzaNews May 30th, 2014

The decision was taken in a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Headed by the premier, the CCI is the highest constitutional body in the country dealing with inter-provincial issues. It includes the chief ministers of all four provinces along with the federal ministers appointed by the prime minister.

Under the mechanism approved by the CCI on Thursday, starting July 1 this year, the federal government will make ‘at-source’ deductions of 25% from the power sector bills of provinces before paying them the rest of the amount.

The CCI, however, failed to resolve a more contentious issue in the meeting – that of the outstanding dues of the provinces, which amount to billions of rupees. The federal government claims the provinces owe it over Rs90 billion in power sector dues, over 50% of which is payable by Sindh alone. The provinces dispute the Rs90 billion figure.

“The CCI approved a mechanism for at-source deduction of outstanding power sector payables of the provinces,” stated an official handout released after the meeting. “The finance minister said the process will be put in place from July 1, 2014, through the federal adjuster.”

According to sources, the federal government wanted to make at-source deductions of 70%, but the provinces did not agree to the suggestion. Radio Pakistan reported that the provinces agreed to 25% of electricity bills to the finance ministry in advance. The amount deducted will subsequently be adjusted within 60 days.

Participants of the meeting also stressed the need to reconcile the provinces’ old dues, the handout said. “The meeting decided that representatives of the provinces should sit together to sort out the issue of old dues within 30 days and its report should be presented in the next CCI meeting.”

Energy efficiency bill approved

During Thursday’s meeting, the CCI approved the Pakistan Energy Efficiency and Conservation (PPEC) Bill, 2014, which seeks a ban on the manufacture, sale, purchase and import of appliances found to be energy inefficient. These will include items like refrigerators, air conditioners, geysers, heaters and other appliances that use a lot of energy.

Under the proposed bill, which is to be presented before Parliament, the Ministry of Water and Power will form a 23-member board to set standards for energy efficiency and prescribe measures of energy conservation.

The CCI also approved an amendment in the Criminal Procedure Code 1898 to restore executive magistracy.

Meanwhile, during a discussion on inquiry into Kachi Canal, Prime Minister Nawaz expressed displeasure over the probe and directed concerned quarters to conduct the inquiry through international auditors. He also directed a financial audit of the scheme.

The CCI once again deferred the issue of holding a population census in the country. According to the Constitution, a census must be held after every 10 years. No census has taken place since 1998.

The council approved amendments in the Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) Act, deciding that the Balochistan chief minister will nominate a chairman for GPA’s board of governors.

It also approved the permanent absorption of federal employees transferred to provincial governments after devolution through the 18th Amendment.

The meeting also endorsed the framework for the 11th Five Year Plan (2013-18) and Pakistan Vision 2025.

Express Tribune

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