KARACHI: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue during a visit to Karachi on Monday recommended third party audit on the appointments made by the government in National Bank of Pakistan.
The NA body further directed that the selection of an audit firm may be made from the existing panel of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
A meeting of the NA standing committee, chaired by MNA Faiz Ullah Kamoka, was held at the SBP. The committee was briefed by SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir on the amendments related to the Banking Services Corporation (BSC) Act which were desired by the central bank. He explained that these amendments were needed to ensure smooth operations of the BSC.
With reference to an another agenda item related to the National Bank, the SBP governor and Deputy Governor Banking Jameel Ahmad briefed the committee on the ‘Fit and Proper Test’ of the incumbent president NBP. Later on, Baqir, Ahmad and SBP BSC Managing Director Muhammed Ashraf Khan replied to the various queries of the NA standing committee.
After detailed discussions, the committee unanimously passed the Banking Services Amendment Bill, 2020. However, the committee members expressed concerns over the qualifications required for said position and the differences in the degree (qualifications) of president NBP.
Ahmad explained that the services of NBP President Arif Usmani were recommended because of his vast experience spread over three-and-half decades in the banking sector.
The NA committee chairman was of the view that the government had to clear earlier allegations against Usmani’s previous track record when he was appointed as the president of National Bank.
On the occasion, the NBP president briefed the committee about the hiring status of the employees of the bank from 2019 to 2020. The most critical element of any organisation were its people and that was particularly true of a service organisation such as a bank, Usmani said. The quality of NBP’s Senior Resources across a variety of disciplines were identified as a serious gap as evident by large number of unaddressed audit comments which indicate lack of will for resolving them, repeated breaches, that resulted in reputational loss and lack of public trust, he added.
The NBP president further said that the recruitment process was done by using existing Board’s approved policies and process for external recruitments. He informed the committee that all the senior positions were advertised internally (within the bank), accordingly. Internal candidates were assessed and eligible candidates were short listed in interviews, however, none of them were found up to the mark, he elaborated.
Usmani added that the new hires were very experienced in their disciplines, had expertise in their role and have a proven track record for working with top organisations.
The NBP president also invited the attention of the committee with regards to the accountability process initiated across the board, wherein, two Senior Executive Vice Presidents (SEVPs) and five EVPs were terminated in order to make NBP a thriving organisation. He was of the opinion that present chain of complaints was a reaction to the disciplinary performance measures being undertaken.
The NA committee members expressed their concerns over the educational criteria highlighted for recruitment of Senior Officers in the bank. Some members of the committee noted that the move seemed to be in violation of Bank’s recruitment policies.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2020