Establish An Appointment Commission First to Oversee Transparency
By Shaukat Masood Zafar
In Pakistan there are 255 Federal public enterprises covering the major economic sectors including banking and finance, industry, trade, communications, water, power, oil and gas, mining, urban and regional development, and insurance. There are 3 departmental undertakings, 43 public corporations, 27 autonomous bodies and 182 companies/projects where the government has majority ownership. Public corporations are established under special legislation of the Federal and Provincial Governments or under the Companies Act 1913/Companies Ordinance 1984.
The scope of the lucrative six-figure pay package for top management positions (MP), being raised up to around Rupees one million per month, basically introduced to attract experts of international standing from the private sector to lead these public sector enterprises in Pakistan, has been contentiously widened to feed well even the serving and retired political affiliated government officials/ political figures, who otherwise are not eligible to draw this huge salary. The MP scales are being offered to more and more persons with every passing day but without following the spirit of the scheme, and the MP scales are today available to even ordinary serving and retired officers. Many of such lucky souls are even working in the ministries, divisions and the attached departments.
The matter does not end here with the appointment of CEOs without following mandatory selection procedures and grant of MP scale to the non deserving Chief Executives of public sector enterprises. Except for the appointment of the chief executives, the officers and other employees are appointed by or on behalf of those Chief Executives. In normal course all appointments must be publicized and the Department must be able to demonstrate that successful candidates met the specified criteria for the role and that they were appointed on merit. Whether or not they are representative of particular interest groups or being considered for appointment as individuals, candidates must be committed to achieving the public body’s objectives and to working within the policy and resources framework set by that organization. On the contrary, since the “rebirth of democracy” from December 1988 to October 1999 and onward the public sector corporations have become playthings in the hands of successive grubby and grabby politicians and in the guise of “professional” and “technical” areas, personnel are recruited in abundance on permanent/ contract basis, through re-employment of retired government and military officers without any without any transparent procedure but purely on political considerations.
Public appointments require the highest standards of propriety, involving impartiality, integrity and objectivity, in relation to the stewardship of public funds and the oversight and management of all related activities. The recruitment and appointment process reflects the commitment to the organization’s values and provides a framework to guide the transparent and competence-based processes. Within this parameter, every effort should be made to encourage diversity and ensure the best people are appointed to serve as the organization’s directors/ officers. To demonstrate commitment to transparency and accountability, this recruitment and appointment process should be made available to the public on the organization’s website. The Chief Executive of the organization should strictly follow the principals of competency, merit, consistency, transparency and openness, and diversity. Instead of bringing transparency and overhauling the corruption-hit and badly mismanaged loss making eight leading public sector enterprises latest by Sept 1, 2010, the government attempted to put at stake the future of Oil and Gas Development Corporation Limited (OGDCL) also, rated as one of the best bets by the foreign investors, by influencing the OGDCL management like other government agencies for political appointments in addition to handing it over to one inexperienced Adnan A Khawaja as head of the Corporation.
It is now an open secret that state-owned companies tend to over-staff workers, pay high wages, and provide generous
benefits particularly in the PPP regimes which has devastated, mismanaged, diminished them in value and stuffed them with incompetent crony crooks, are at the verge of collapse today. The Government neglected its commitment made early this year to restructure Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation, Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), Pakistan Agriculture Services and Storage Corporation, Utility Stores Corporation (USC) and the National Highway Authority (NHA), which instead of earning profits for the government are eating up hundreds of billions of rupees from public exchequer because of massive corruption and mismanagement.
Take the example of PIA where unnecessary appointments were made and at present there are 440 plus employees per plane, compared to an international average of some 150 per plane. Some 1,294 nonqualified employees dismissed during PML(N) regime were reinstated by the courts (despite resistance by PIA) till 2006; the President’s “Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Ordinance, 2009” has brought back a further 2,994. Today, PIA is facing the worst crises of its history. According to a recent report, its total accumulative losses have reached to Rs 83.3 billion, whereas the amount of net losses is Rs 79.03 billion. This abhorrent condition of PIA is primarily because of two factors. First; the financial and administrative mismanagement of the airline at all level. The second factor include; the political appointment of its employees, while bypassing the merit and requisite minimum needed expertise and available number of posts. This is reinforced by over employment with lavish salaries and perks and privileges without any yield.
Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), one time considered as a jewel in the crown of Pakistan, having its policies over the decades an example of how even a 64 per cent government-owned public utility could benefit from excellent, efficient and independent management. During the second regime of PPP (1994-97), Dr Faizullah Abbasi was foisted upon SSGC as deputy Managing Director, with the primary task of appointing 4,257 superfluous and incompetent employees (thus doubling company strength) without following mandatory selection procedures.
Once the prime transporter of cargo and passengers alike – Pakistan Railway is in dire straits and is confronted with losses worth billions of rupees mainly due to mismanagement, corruption, highly controversial appointments on lucrative positions, and overstaffing in the organisation. Pakistan Railways is confronted with acute crises, including the crunch in the form of the huge deficit of Rs 23 billion annually, is at the verge of collapse.
EOBI has suffered a loss of Rs 11.3 billion due to investment in stock market. EOBI to date has invested Rs 42 billion in stock market and due to slump in the market value of shares dropped from Rs 42.33 billion to Rs 31 billion. It has also indulged itself in transactions of private property without having any lawful authority there are chances that some body could pressurize it to invest in assets that could result in further losses. It has also appointed over 200 people to the blue eyed boys of high and mighty of present regime by killing the merit.
There are serious allegations of thousands of backdoor appointments in ZTBL made while defrauding the declared system of recruitment and in complete violation of the merit. The ZTBL is already badly reputed for having tainted past record of appointments. the President ZTBL has also employed in senior executive cadres by offering six figure lucrative salary packages his nears and dears ones, dismissed employees of other institutions like Mr. Ashfaq Qureshi, Aurangzeb Mohsin Khan, some inefficient people like Sanaullah, some retired military officers, some people from his own sugar mills, in addition to many others who have no vision, skills, and experience relating to developmental banking operations.
Miss Roohi, recently appointed as COO is said to be cancer patient and she has been appointed just to meet her expenditure on expensive medication. It is against the rules as everybody appointed in the bank is bound to produce a certificate of good health at the time of joining.
This cluster of incapable, inexperienced, and unqualified, appointees have plundered hundreds of millions rupees in the shape of high salary packages, perks, TA/DAs, and facilities and due to lack of experience they have pushed this best institution towards bankruptcy. Instead of putting in good governance, the performance of this management is restrained for the last two years only up to plundering Bank’s funds whenever and wherever possible, transferring the staff not “cooperating” with the management to far flung areas, huge appointments of MCOs and other staff purely on political considerations, protecting highly corrupt and sacking the innocent employees, frequent transfers/postings of zonal chiefs for their personal gains, making promotions of Vice President and above through pick and choose, frequent adjustment lending to show high performance in recovery rating, converting disbursement of loan in cash into kind just for their personal gains, crop insurance scam, transfer of the people seeking justice from any court of law to far flung unattractive areas, and such like numerous other “achievements”. The result is that the Zarai Taraqiati Bank, a profitable, self-sustaining and holding large assets, is today on the brink of collapse because of mismanagement, nepotism, and corrupt practices by political appointees of the present regime. There are several other institutions who are breathing their last due to the same reasons. The Prime Minister has now intended to restructure eight loss sustaining public entities in near future.
To be continued….