PESHAWAR: The re-hiring of the former acting chief executive officer of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (BOIT) as the board’s adviser despite the opposition of the industries and law departments has caused a controversy.

The documents available with Dawn show that in Nov 2018, the BOIT board approved a proposal suggesting that the services of the then acting CEO, Nazir Awan, would be hired as the board adviser following the appointment of a regular CEO.

The proposal didn’t carry terms of reference, job description and salary package for the adviser’s position.

Industries, law depts had opposed the appointment

Sources told Dawn that the BOIT issued an order recently entitling Mr Awan to draw Rs400,000 monthly salary and have an official car with 200 litres petrol every month.

The newly-appointed KPBOIT CEO, Hassan Daud Butt, told Dawn that the matter would be placed before the board in its meeting scheduled to take place at the start of next month. He, however, parried a question about Mr Awan’s pay.

Mr Awan, who is around 70, had a long association with the BOIT.

He joined the organisation as the additional director (human resource) in 2013 and was made the director a year later for two years. He was later appointed the acting CEO.

Mr Awan had retired as the deputy secretary in 2012.

As his three years service at BOIT ended in 2016, he asked for three months extension as a consultant.

Though the board rejected the request, sources claimed that the then industries secretary supported Mr Awan, who managed to retain his position despite the chief minister’s orders to the annoyance of the organisation’s HR committee.

Following the Nov 2018 meeting wherein the decision to appoint Mr Awan as the board adviser was taken, one of the government representatives wrote an email on Nov 15, 2018, to participants questioning Mr Awan’s appointment as the adviser and pay raise for him under the procurement rules saying there should be first an approved set of ToRs and pay package followed by a competitive hiring process.

He said in the Mr Awan case, the BOIT was hiring its acting CEO as an adviser without due process and that the ToRs would cause legal complications.

The official in January this year, another email was sent to the board’s members questioning the board meeting’s minutes related to the approval of appointment of Mr Awan as adviser.

“It is a clear conflict of interest,” he said.

The official said the board had asked to solicit KPPRA and establishment department input on acting CEO Awan’s proposal to re-appoint him as an adviser.

“The agenda item was never approved in the meeting and the minutes should be accordingly corrected,” it read. Dawn has copies of both emails.

The law department in his opinion about the direct appointment of consultants/adviser by an autonomous body without due process under the KPPRA rules noted that no appointment under Section 13 of the KPBOIT Act 2015 could be made unless the terms were prescribed either by rules or regulations duly published in the official gazette under sections 17 or 18 of the Act.

The KP Public Procurement Regulatory Authority in its opinion on the hiring of consultant/adviser said such appointment on a regular or contractual basis against the sanctioned posts and positions charged from expenditure budget was beyond jurisdiction of the authority.

However, the procurement of consultant/firm will be subjected to rules 22-29 of the KP Public Procurement of Goods, Works and Services Rules, 2014, which specifies the procedure for the hiring of a consultant.

Sources told Dawn that the BOIT regulations had yet to be framed.

They said ironically, the draft regulations shared with the industries department had Mr. Awan’s CV attached with it.

“Any conflict of interest in the draft regulation must please be ruled out and the provision for a consultant adviser with specific qualification/CV should be deleted,” the industries department wrote to the authority.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2019