Dear Power Minister to be,
I was at the position you will assume for hopefully a brief period of sixty odd days. I address this open letter to you to try to set a tradition of passing on the learnings of your predecessor, so you could hit the ground running at the Ministry. I hope you will take out the time to read this, ‘Power love letter,’ with an open mind.
Let me prepare you for the reception you may get; the Power Division would be in a total status quo mood, since you are there for sixty days only. Even if you were there for six months like I was, the mind set would be to try and convince the Minister to take it easy, irrespective of the fact that he was trying to do justice to do a job that we get paid for. So, please do not succumb to that and make the most of the time on hand to make a difference.
The Division is marred by serious HR issues. In spite of the fact that the officers work hard and try their best to perform, they lack expertise to set the sector in order. A 1.6 Trillion Rupee sector still does not have at their disposal, the HR that was identified by us as necessary, in the form of 16 people with profile requisites like Energy economists, Legal experts, regulatory and corporate executives. In spite of having obtained the approval of the Cabinet for Special Technical Professional Scale to enable a well-compensated team on board, the real powers of the Ministry were too strong for a Minister who was there for six months to ensure the hiring of such professionals. I wouldn’t want to vilify their reservation on this, but it certainly was unprofessional not to utilize whatever time there was in order to get work done. So, please start the process of hiring this team immediately. We have the organogram and job descriptions ready.
Lack of an integrated plan for the Power Sector and an electricity policy is another weakness that the sector cannot afford at the policy making level. I have had the law that governs the Power sector approved just last month and the policy draft is ready and has been circulated amongst all Divisions. Please have the differences if any ironed out in your 60 days and get it ready for the elected government to consider at the new CCI. There is also an electricity Plan we authored half way. Please keep the momentum on. This document will be the answer for all future planning of the Power Division. From Renewables, to Transmission systems, to addressing the shortcomings in the distribution sector, to technology interventions, to breaking huge mafias in DISCOS, to integrated planning for better quality of services for the customers, to determining the future fuel mix, to resolution of the circular debt. This plan will cover all facets of the Power Division. We have set up an excellent team to author this plan. DO NOT LET ANYONE SLOW THIS DOWN OR THE POLICY just because you are here for sixty days only. We do not have the time to wait to pass the buck on. This status quo of a few in the bureaucratic realm along with the fear of NAB or the Courts will let us down as a Nation. The huge gap in the electricity billed and recovered because of theft, which we refer to as the circular debt has the potential to cripple the economy as a whole. So, please do not relax on this on the pretext that nothing can be achieved in 60 days.
RFP (Request for proposal) for a competitive bidding process by AEDB for more than 1000 MW of Renewables needs to be authored. It is in the pipe line. Do a service to the Nation and get that done.
Do not discontinue the strict HR policy in DISCOS and PEPCO introduced 6 months ago. This earned me a lot of criticism as political obligations could not be met but it is imperative that it be so for the sake of our Companies. I have a long list of targets that need to be met but the ones I have so far mentioned will have your hands full for sixty days.
Please be transparent in sharing information. We launched great applications with the help of PITC to keep our customers informed. Do not let anyone block that information stream.
These are realistic targets. God help you and all of us in trying to make a difference for our great Motherland in whatever little time we have.
Last but not the least: Closely monitor the supply of electricity to the DISCOS. Arrangement for fuel supply and liquidity issues for the Power Sector has been resolved before our departure. The monitoring of the DISCOS and current power position on WhatsApp groups is a good way to pursue any issues of load management.
Good Luck and God speed
(The writer is the outgoing federal minister for power)