OGRA ordinance to be amended by govt

The government is planning to introduce amendments to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) 2002 to give representation to provinces on regulatory authority. Under these amendments, the govt would appoint a vice chairman from amongst Ogra members for one year from each province through rotation.

According to the 18th Constitution Amendment, all provinces have joint and equal role and responsibility in natural resources. Therefore, these amendments have been approved to give equal representation to the provinces in the regulatory matters of these resources.

Keeping in mind the model of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), which gives representation to the provinces, a bill is being introduced for reforms in Ogra.

The amendment bill would allow for a chairman to be appointed by the federal government and four members, one from each province to be appointed by the federal government after discussion with the concerned provincial government.

Under the said bill, every member should be a professional of known integrity and competence with at least 15 years of related experience in law, business, engineering, public administration, finance, accounting, economics, management, petroleum industry or consumer affairs.

Presently, Ogra has a chairman and three members – oil, gas and finance.

Under the proposed bill, chairman and members shall be appointed by the federal government for an initial term of four years and shall be eligible for reappointment for a similar term. However, they will be appointed by the federal government after consultation with the provincial governments.

In the draft bill, the federal government said that after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, the provinces had been vested joint and equal role, responsibility and functions in the executive and regulatory domain in matters related to mineral, oil and natural resources, hence, any mechanism working at the federal level to regulate affairs of distribution of these resources and matters connected therewith must be mutually shared and agreed upon.

Therefore, the amendments are being made to guarantee equal representation to all provinces.

The Sindh government has proposed amendments for the restructuring of Ogra to give representation to the provinces and KP government has also ensured its support.

K-P government said it fully agreed with the amendments if indigenous consumers were ring-fenced and the burden of imported gas (RLNG) consumers is not dumped on the indigenous gas consumer.

The government of Balochistan also welcomed the amendments saying that current matter was related to the provincial entry points in the management structure of federal entities.

Though Punjab government agreed with the amendments, it opposed the extension in tenures and said that the chairman and provincial members shall have a fixed term of four years. The age of chairman and members shall not exceed 58 years at the time of appointment, it added.

The amendment hopes to protect Pakistan’s interest and national security in relation to regulating activities in accordance with Ogra ordinance, rules and regulations. It emphasizes on formulating a mechanism to eliminate exploitation and price distortion by market, stakeholders in petroleum sector which is prevalent due to Ogra’s inefficiency.