NAB gives go ahead to revised deals with IPPs

ISLAMABAD: In a new development, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has written a letter to the Power Division saying that the government has the full authority to execute their altered agreements with 47 IPPs in a bid to provide relief to those officials who are hesitant to implement the new agreements because of fears of possible action against them in future.

The anti-graft body has written this in its letter to the Power Division after the government missed the deadline of March 29, 2021 in paying Rs85 billion to nine IPPs installed pre and under 1994 policy.

Top officials confided to The News that the ‘powerful circles’ that also played an important role in getting the discounted tariff of Rs836 billion in next 20 years from 47 IPPs through discounted tariff have influenced NAB to provide ease to the government in implementing the altered contracts. “The officials of powerful circles have remained part of the negotiations with IPPs from the very outset till the signing of Master Agreements and revised contracts.”

On March 29, the Power Division was to pay to the said IPPs which are not under the NAB probe but top mandarins of Power Division failed to take the risk for paying the said amount to them because of the fears of action on part of NAB in future.

“However, the top officials of Power Division sent the NAB letter to Law Division asking for their opinion if PD officials will be facing NAB investigation or not in future once they implement the new contracts and go for clearance of 40 percent of IPPs dues as first installment,” officials said. “And in case the Law Division gives a positive opinion, then the government will send a summary to the next ECC meeting to have collective ownership of the decision to start paying the 40 percent of the dues to IPPs as the first installment,” the officials privy to development told The News and added: “Paying to IPPs the 40 percent of their dues as first installment is a condition of the agreement to make the revised deals operational. The remaining 60 percent dues will be paid to IPPs by the government in next six months.”

The process to get revised contracts with IPPs suffered a setback in February 2021 when NAB Lahore wrote a letter to the Power Division’s secretary asking him to provide till February 18 all the record about the conversion of MoUs into altered contracts, starting from signing of MoUs with 47 IPPs up to the signing of amended power purchase agreements (PPAs) to find out ‘any wrongdoing.’ The letter from NAB left the top officials of the Power and Finance Division in a state of shock. “Since then, they are reluctant in offloading the 40pc dues to IPPs.”

On February 18, 2021, the members of the government negotiation team along with top officials of the Power Division had given a briefing to the NAB chairman. After the meeting, NAB issued a press release saying NAB was happy over the revised deal done with the IPPs by the government. However, the NAB Lahore didn’t withdraw its letter sent to the Power Division in February 2021 and Secretary Power Division in return provided all the required record of the revised deals. So the Power Division’s top officials remained hesitant in implementing the agreements. And the Power Division secretary sent a summary to the ECC suggesting that unless NAB completes its probe, the payments to IPPs should not be made to IPPs installed under the 2002 power policy. The summary also asked for halting the process to form a local arbitration tribunal to resolve the issue of excess profits of Rs55 billion. According to Tabish Gauhar, Special Assistant to PM on Power and Petroleum, bureaucracy is fearful of NAB and if the anti-graft body clears the revised deal, then payment of the dues will start.

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