Sindh decides to set up ‘SEPRA’ to end ‘energy poverty’

By Staff Reporter | Business Recorder Apr 13, 2023

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, presiding over a cabinet meeting at CM House, decided to establish a Sindh Electric Power Regulatory Authority (SEPRA) to improve energy equity and eliminate “energy poverty” in the province.

Minister Energy Imtiaz Shaikh briefing the cabinet said that Sindh was blessed with an entire value chain of energy resources inter-alia coal, solar, and wind, with cost-effective access through air, land, and sea routes, which could be utilized for the generation of electricity, wheeled through the transmission network of Sindh Grid Company to meet the demand of household, commercial and industrial consumers of the province at affordable prices.

He said that constraints are faced by the provincial power projects, especially the renewable projects of wind and solar development, within the national framework in terms of non-inclusion in the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan 2021 (IGCEP 2021), and lack of further processing by the federal entities.

The meeting was told that it was imperative that a holistic legal, policy, and regulatory framework for generation, transmission, distribution and regulation is formulated so that energy equity was improved and energy poverty in the Province was eliminated.

The cabinet was told that under Section (7)(4) of the Nepra Act 1997 the provinces have been allowed to construct power houses and grid stations and lay transmission lines for use within the province and determine the tariff for the distribution of electricity within the province. The cabinet after a thorough discussion approved the establishment of the Sindh Electric Power Regulatory Authority.

However, Minister Transport Sharjeel Memon told the meeting that Karachi BRT Red Line Project was being implemented in collaboration with ADB and co-financer including AIIB, AFD, and GCF, at a cost of $503.2 million.

He said that Trans Karachi was an implementing agency for this project. The BRT project corridor passes through urban areas of the megacity originating from Malir Halt and terminating at Tower via Malir Cantonment, Safoora, University Road, and Numaesh.

The land of Aladdin Park which has been identified to be used as the project’s other depot. At the request of the Transport dept, the cabinet approved the proposal to provide 16-acre land of Aladdin Park to the transport dept to develop it as a bus depot/ staging facility.

The features of the bus depot include a bus parking facility, bus inspection area, filling station (biogas), workshop, offices, bus wash, and vacuum facility, watch towers, security, and main entry gates, a water recycling plant, and fire pump room.

The cabinet also directed the transport dept to take over the land of the slaughterhouse to establish a biogas plant for the BRT Red Line project.

The provincial cabinet also approved Rs246.678mn subsidy for the Peoples Bus Service to meet the fare difference.

On the proposal of Minister Labour Saeed Ghani the cabinet approved the fixation of minimum wages for three categories of skilled workers, semi-skilled and highly skilled workers employed in 42 industries.

The new rate as approved by the cabinet would be effective at a rate of Rs26,000 for semi-skilled workers, Rs31,961 for skilled workers, and Rs33,491 for highly skilled workers with retrospective effect from January 2023.

The CM said that the new wages for the workers of different categories would be considered from the next financial year.

Minister Revenue Makhdoom Mahboob told the cabinet that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) intended to sign a bilateral agreement for data sharing with the Board of Revenue Sindh to develop an effective mechanism for the exchange of information between different public sector organizations for optimum revenue generation under the World’s Bank “Pakistan Raises Revenue” Program. It was pointed out that the agreement had been signed with the FBR on April 6; therefore, the cabinet granted post-facto approval.

Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho told the cabinet that the Governing Body of HANDS has proposed the establishment of a Degree Awarding Institute, HANDS- Institute of Development Studies (HANDS-IDS), at Gadap.

She added that Sindh HEC has recommended the grant of the Charter. The cabinet approved the proposal and referred it to the assembly. The cabinet on the recommendation of the health dept appointed Justice Abdul Rasool Memon and Dr Ghulam Rasool Shah as Commissioners of the Sindh Healthcare Commission.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, advisors, special assistants, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Chairman P&D Hassan Naqvi, PSCM Fayaz Jatoi, and other concerned officers.

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