Appointment of CDA chairman, board members faces prolonged delay

Updated September 10, 2019

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CDA board has just one regular member at present. — CDA website
CDA board has just one regular member at present. — CDA website

ISLAMABAD: The process of appointing a chairman and board members of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has faced a prolonged delay, with no new appointments made 21 months after a landmark Islamabad High Court (IHC) judgement in this regard.

In December 2017, the IHC ruled that the appointment of the CDA chairman and board members should be in accordance with the 1960 CDA Ordinance, which says appointments will be made following a competitive process and private sector professionals will be appointed to run the authority.

Successive governments have hardly ever complied with the ordinance, and have repeatedly appointed government servants to such posts instead. But in its judgement nearly two years ago, the IHC had directed the government to make appointments in accordance with the law.

The Ministry of Interior advertised five posts – member administration, member planning and design, member finance, member estate and member engineering – a few months ago, with June 15 listed as the application deadline. No advertisements have been placed yet for the appointment of a chairman.

Sources said the interior ministry has shortlisted candidates for the aforementioned posts, and they would be called in for interviews in the coming weeks.

CDA board has just one regular member at present

Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on CDA Affairs Ali Awan recently told Dawn that the appointment of board members would be finalised soon.

The board has one regular member at present: member estate Khushal Khan, who also looks after the post of member administration.

The posts of member engineering and member finance have been vacant since the temporary member engineering Hafiz Ehsanul Haq recently reached the age of superannuation and former member finance Dr Fahad Aziz joined another organisation after completing his three-year deputation.

The office of the member planning is being looked after by grade 20 officer Dr Shahid Mehmood, while Islamabad Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmed has been looking after the post of CDA chairman.

The CDA management wrote to the ministry this April asking for the process to hire board members and a chairman to be initiated.

In a letter dated April 2, Member Administration Khushal Khan asked the interior secretary to initiate the process to appoint members and a chairman.

Sources said around 300 applicants responded to the interior ministry’s advertisement, and applicants have been shortlisted.

A CDA official said the posts of members should be filled without further delay. He said the IHC has ordered the government to appoint a chairman and members from the private sector, but the government has not made any progress as far as appointing a chairman is concerned.

The official said there has been some discussion over whether one of the new members could be given charge of the post of chairman, adding that this would open another Pandora’s box because the jobs of the chairman and a member are different.

“The CDA needs a full-time chairman. If a new member is given charge as CDA chairman, who will work on [the member’s] post,” he asked.

The official said the CDA needs a powerful board that can make important, long-term decisions.

“At a time when Islamabad’s master plan is being revised for the first time, there should be a full-fledged CDA board to assist the commission in revising the master plan,” he said, adding that there are several government initiatives under consideration, such as developing economic corridors on the Islamabad Highway greenbelt, that need to be discussed by a vibrant board.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2019