ISLAMABAD: The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), which was established to ensure transparency in procurements by all ministries and departments of the federal government, has been accused of making 32 appointments in a non-transparent manner.

In the audit of the PPRA, the office of the Auditor General of Pakistan raised objection to these appointments.

According to PPRA’s website, it “is an autonomous body endowed with the responsibility of prescribing regulations and procedures for public procurements by federal government-owned public sector organisations with a view to improving governance, management, transparency, accountability and quality of public procurement of goods, works and services. It is also endowed with the responsibility of monitoring procurement by public sector agencies/organisations and has been delegated necessary powers under the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002”.

However, the audit observed that the Establishment Division vide an office memorandum of Jan 1, 1992 states that no ministry, division, department and organisation will receive applications for any post unless the vacancies are advertised.

As per the audit objection, “the management of Public Procurement Regulatory Au­­thority appointed employees wi­thout advertisement”. The audit further noted that “the management appointed the employees without observing proper procedure”.

Subsequently, the audit “is of the view that an appointment of staff without advertisement was irregular and unauthorised”.

Following the audit objection, a citizen, retired Brigadier Suleman Ahmed Khan, has filed a complaint with Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, drawing his attention to ‘illegal’ appointments.

According to the complaint, majority of these 32 ‘illegal’ appointees are relatives of PPRA’s senior officials. In some cases, the senior officials employed their personal servants on lower-grade positions in the PPRA without advertising the posts in the press. The complaint said: “The appointment of 32 PPRA staff is violation of law, misuse of public authority, discretion as well as usurpation of a public office without completing legal formalities.”

As per a list of the 32 officials, there are three deputy directors, namely Ali Temoor, Yasir Shamim Khan and Rizwan Mehmood, who were initially appointed on contract without completing codal formalities and without the approval of the PPRA board.

Most of the appointments without advertisement have been made allegedly on the directive of former managing director of the PPRA Mohammad Khalid Javed. He even appointed his personal servants in low-grade jobs.

A senior official of the PPRA told Dawn that initially they were appointed on a contract basis against temporary positions. However, a sub-committee of the cabinet headed by Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah regularised them in the PPRA despite the fact that there was no permanent position against which the jobs of contractual employees could be regularised. It may be mentioned that the office of the auditor general also noted that “their services were subsequently regularised in PPRA without the approval of finance division”.

The official said the authorities concerned were planning to obtain post-facto approval of these unauthorised appointments which was not permissible under the rules. PPRA director general Irfan Rafique, when contacted, said the audit para regarding the unauthorised appointments was being examined and would be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019