ISLAMABAD - The Senate sub-committee on water and power held National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) responsible for overbilling to consumers in the month of June, July and August 2014.

The committee, at its meeting here on Friday, observed that the commission was constituted on the directions of the prime minister only for audit purposes. The committee members were unanimous that five slabs were reduced to two, which resulted in excess billing, whereas distribution companies were blamed wrongly. The committee also observed that the present challenge is how to return the excess amount to the consumers.

During the proceedings, the water and power officials informed the committee that power generation through coal agreements between China and Pakistan are government-to-government agreements, while the private companies would execute the projects.

The members observed that after oil mafia, coal mafia was being established, and instead of installing hydel power plants to generate inexpensive electricity from water, the government was signing agreements to generate expensive power through furnace oil, gas and coal.

Senator Nisar said that the hydel machinery installed in 1935 was more efficient then today’s expensive machinery imported to generate 81 megawatts in Malakand.

Senator Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi said that coal-based power plants should be installed near the sea so that expenses on transportation of machinery could be saved.

He also advised the government to replace the out-of-order plants of Jamshoro, Thar, and Guddu with imported German or British machinery.

The Nepra representatives said the biggest problem of power sector was circular debt which had again swollen to Rs 300 billion despite the recent payment of around Rs 500 billion

They told the committee that higher coal tariff was announced just to attract foreign investors reluctant to come to Pakistan which has the worst law and order perception among international investors who rate it worse than Afghanistan. The committee called the Nepra high-ups at next meeting to finally fix the responsibility of excess bills.­