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ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday removed Secretary Power Division, Irfan Ali, an officer of BS 22 of Pakistan Administrative Service(PAS), regarded as one of the most honest bureaucrats.

Sources in the Power Division told this newspaper that Ali was removed because he was attempting to root out corruption, resisting politically-motivated transfers and postings, rent seekers and taking on bureaucrats who reportedly tampered with Council of Common Interest's (CCI's) decision on Net Hydel Profit (NHP).

The newly-appointed Secretary Power, Omar Rasul, an officer of BS 22 of PAS who, has already served in the Power Division as Additional Secretary/Managing Director Pepco when Younus Dagha was Secretary Power Division. Previously, he served as Secretary Board of Investment (BoI) for more than a year with Commerce Advisor, Abdul Razak Dawood

The sources privy to this development said that Irfan Ali was under pressure for the last one and half years from Members of National Assembly and Senators from the government side on matters relating to transfers/postings; but both the Minister for Power, Omar Ayub and Irfan Ali were resisting these members and maintaining that they will not make any transfer/posting without merit. The two also bore the brunt of their resistance at the federal cabinet meetings.

Insiders claim that the Minister is politically weak which is why he is grilled in almost every cabinet meeting and was unable to forestall the transfer of Irfan Ali.

According to insiders, one of the senior ministers from Multan had threatened Secretary Irfan Ali of dire consequences when he refused to restore an officer of Mepco who was caught red-handed in taking a bribe. Irfan Ali never received TA/ DA or fee as Board member of any company or organization.

Minister for Power, Omar Ayub told this newspaper on a couple of occasions that he and Irfan Ali took decisions based on merit with consensus. Both claim that they contributed to reforming the power sector. The Prime Minister, had himself praised the role of Power Division bringing about improvement in power sector.

Insiders also claim that lawmakers and bureaucrats were against Irfan Ali for reportedly not getting his support for "lucrative tariff" for hydel projects. Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan had held a couple of meetings with Omar Ayub Khan in this regard.

One of the key disputes between Secretary to Prime Minister, Azam Khan and Irfan Ali was the latter's claim of alteration in the minutes of a decision on Net Hydel Profit (NHP) taken by the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

Irfan Ali, in a letter had asserted that the AGN Kazi Methodology (KCM) to calculate and collect NHP from consumers is unconstitutional and minutes of the CCI meeting held on December 23, 2019 have been tampered with.

The decision of the CCI communicated to the stakeholders is as follows "after due deliberation on the issue of NHP and Kazi Committee Methodology, the CCI decided that the previous decisions of CCI on the subject would remain intact. In the light of previous decisions, CCI decided to constitute a committee of technical and financial experts to determine out of box solution/methodology to determine NHP."

Power Division stated that the minutes of CCI with regard to NHP have been tampered with and the essence of the decision has been changed.

Some of the insiders are of the view that there is a need for a change in subsidy mechanism and PPIB and AEDB should be merged into a single organization. Pepco should be dissolved formally as CPPA-G has already taken the function of power buyer and seller.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020