Centre-Punjab rifts grow over Nepra legal member’s appointment

ISLAMABAD: Following the PTI government’s nomination of Amina Ahmed as a legal member of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), the controversy between the federal and Punjab governments grew more intense.

The decision has been made despite concerns from the central government, according to a senior person with knowledge of the situation who spoke to The News. In light of the NEPRA Amendment Act, it was added that Punjab might nominate its member.

The previous PTI administration in Punjab, led by then-chief minister Usman Buzdar, submitted the identical name to the Cabinet Division on March 31, 2022, at the top of a shortlist of three candidates.

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At that time, the federal government rejected Amina Ahmed’s nomination and asked the Punjab government to select a candidate with relevant expertise in the electricity industry.

The federal government further stated that “her credentials do not qualify her for appointment as a member of Nepra Punjab.” This involves legal expertise and familiarity with regulatory methods and the electricity industry in particular.”

Now, the newly-elected PTI administration in Punjab, led by Chief Minister Pervez Elahi, has once again nominated her as a legal member from Punjab. Nepra has been without provincial representation since March 2021. This has frustrated the federal government.

In its most recent letter, dated September 28, 2022, to the secretary of the Cabinet Division, the Punjab government provided a single nominee for the position of regulator member rather than a panel of three.

In the letter, it is stated that Amina is a Juris Doctor at Axis law Chambers and that she has been re-nominated as the legal member from Punjab for Nepra.

It is a compromised choice that will only favor the government that appoints it without following the proper process. “Therefore, it is possible that the federal government would not approve her recommendation from Punjab,” the official stated.

When contacted, the Punjab government stated that Amina is a Juris Doctor with the necessary experience in business law, judging her qualified to represent Punjab as a legal member of the regulator. According to the statement, this is why the provincial administration has re-nominated her for the position of Nepra member.

According to the provisions of the Amended Nepra law, he explained, the member law must hold a degree in the field of corporate and economic law, be a professional of recognized integrity and eminence with a minimum of 12 years of relevant experience, and be nominated by the provinces or the federal government.

Since the PTI administration in Punjab supplied the same name again despite its rejection by the federal government, added the official.