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February 21, 2019

The NHP issue

Opinion

February 21, 2019

I was looking after the portfolio of ‘inter-provincial matters’, besides others, in the last interim government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It was a sobering experience to learn how not to run a federation.

Let me take a few issues bedevilling relations between KP and the federal government. On top of the list is net hydel profits (NHP). (By the way, the word ‘hydel’ does not exist in the English language. It is used here because that is how it has been used all along).

Article 161(2) of the constitution provides how net profits earned by the federal government , or any undertaking established or administered by the federal government, shall be paid to the province in which the hydro-electric station is situated.

The Kazi committee had successfully arrived at a methodology for computing NHP in July 1985; this was known as the Kazi Committee Methodology (KCM). The issue was approved and endorsed by the Council of Common Interests in 1991, 1993, 1997 and 1998. It was endorsed through a presidential order in 1991, and by a Supreme Court decision in 1997. Over three decades later, the federal government has not been able to implement an agreed position and a settled question. The KP government has been reduced to the position of a supplicant.

By adopting the KCM, KP will be entitled to get Rs90 billion per year as NHP. Are we grudging this to KP? If money is not available in the system to pay then it could be considered as an interest-bearing loan to the federal government. The latter could undertake to pay it in 50 years.

A related issue is that the provincial government has no means to know how much electricity is produced from various hydroelectric power stations. The federal government has been repeatedly asked since 2015 to install the requisite software for recording daily electricity production. The IPCC and the CCI in 2017 and 2018 repeatedly directed to install the system.

Not many are aware that the government of KP established four run-of-river power generating projects. The total power produced from these projects is 74.2 MW. Two of them, Pehur (Swabi) and Machai (Mardan), have been connected to the national grid since 2010. The KP government’s requests to the Central Power Purchasing Agency to sign a power purchase agreement have not been heeded. The rate determined by Nepra is Rs4.5 per unit of electricity while the CPPA is paying Rs1 per unit and is reluctant to sign a PPA to be placed before the Inter Provincial Coordination Committee for approval.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the new frontier for oil and gas production. At present, 14 national and international companies are busy exploring and producing gas in 28 blocks. As per Article 158 of the constitution, the province has a preferential right on usage of gas. Sadly the same mindset prevails here which gave so much resentment in Balochistan about the distribution of Sui gas.

These are but a few instances that I picked up to prove how constitutional provisions are violated, the Supreme Court’s decisions are ignored and the government’s own decisions are not meant to be implemented. How does the government expect its citizens to be obedient to the constitution and the law as provided by the Article 5(2) if it itself stands in violations of it? Is Article 6 of the constitution the only provision to be taken seriously?

In many cases the provinces have been hollering down the federal well, hearing back their own echoes and nothing else.

The PTI has been carried by the people of KP to national heights. Its success in this province in 2013 enabled it to make exaggerated claims about the transformations brought about there, hence claiming to be the only party of change in the entire country. The PTI owes it to the people of KP to resolve all its legitimate, lawful issues with the federal government.

The writer is a former civil servant and a former minister.

Email: [email protected]

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