Govt upgrades criterion for hiring Ogra chief

Updated 22 Sep 2020

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The cabinet will consider a three-member panel for appointment of the Ogra Member (Oil). — Ogra website/File
The cabinet will consider a three-member panel for appointment of the Ogra Member (Oil). — Ogra website/File

ISLAMABAD: The government is set to scrap the process for the appointment of chairperson Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and double the remuneration package to attract quality candidates for the post.

The federal cabinet meeting today (Tuesday) — to be presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan — is expected to formally approve the summary which was already authorised by the premier.

Cabinet sources told Dawn that a selection committee led by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, PM’s adviser on accountability and interior, had rejected all the five short-listed candidates out of 38 applicants for being below par and none of them could secure more than 60 per cent marks.

“Regrettably, none of the candidates were found suitable enough to be selected as chairman Ogra,” wrote Cabinet Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera. He added that the committee was unanimous that a dynamic person with a clear vision, strong leadership qualities and deep knowledge of the oil sector should be assigned the challenge of leading an organisation like Ogra.

Committee rejects all shortlisted candidates; seeks to double pay

On the recommendation of the selection committee, the cabinet is expected to order re-advertising the post with an upgraded selection criteria and on Special Professional Pay Scale (SPPS) instead of Management Pay Scale-1 (MP-1) in order to attract better candidates. The total remuneration package under SPPS works out at about Rs2.5 million per month unlike about Rs950,000 under MP-1.

At present, all members are paid about Rs600,000 per month salary while chairperson is entitled to about an additional Rs50,000 administrative allowance. In comparison, the SPPS salary now stands at about Rs1.5m. Interestingly, the qualification and experience is almost the same.

The five shortlisted candidates who were rejected after interview procedure and background checks from previous organisations included Muhammad Arif, Zainulabideen Qureshi, Shahzad Iqbal (all three from Ogra), Salman Amin and Salman Sher Qaiserani.

Also, the cabinet would consider a three-member panel for appointment of the Ogra Member (Oil). Top among the panel is Zainulabideen Qureshi of Ogra, followed by Zia-ul-Haq Mirza of Attock Oil and Asim Niazi of Qatar Petroleum.

The post of member oil and chairperson fell vacant on May 16 and July 17 this year, respectively. The Ogra had since been paralysed due to lack of quorum. However, the appointment of member oil would complete the quorum.

The cabinet is also expected to appoint an Appellate Tribunal under section Nepra law to hear appeals against decisions of the power regulator as directed by the supreme court of Pakistan early this month. The Ministry of Law and Justice is seeking appointment of a retired judge as chairman in MP-1 grade and member finance in MP-II for the Appellate Tribunal. Besides the chairman, the tribunal will have two members — once each from Sindh and Balochistan — for the first time to be followed after three years from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The cabinet would also approve appointment of chairperson in BS-21 in the Environmental Tribunal Islamabad under Environmental Protection Act of 1997.

Also, the cabinet would take up terms and conditions for the appointment of acting chairman and chairman of Pakistan Islands Development Authority (Pida) Karachi. The federal cabinet had last month approved setting up of Pida for the development of barren islands in Pakistan’s territorial waters and to undertake residential and other infrastructure projects so as to help revive industries associated with construction industry and generate job opportunities.

The authorities expect that setting up of Pida would attract investment in land reclamation, road links, water recycling and sewerage treatment facilities. To begin with, Buddo and Bundle Islands currently under the Port Qasim Auhtority would be transferred to Pida.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2020