LAHORE: Senate Standing Committee on Power has expressed grave concern over appointment of a member of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) Board of Directors as the company’s deputy managing director (DMD) against Rs1.82 million monthly salary package.

Terming the appointment a clear example of conflict of interest, the committee also questioned posting of a retired officer of the company as DMD on the same package and promotion of a senior official of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) facing 14 departmental inquiries.

According to the minutes of the recent meeting of the Senate committee, senators Fida Muhammad, Syed Shibli Faraz, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, Sana Jamali, Haji Hidayatullah Khan, Behramand Khan Tangi and senior officials of the power division attended the session presided over by Senator Saifullah Abro.

During the meeting, Senator Fida raised the matter of “illegal” appointment of Mr Ali Zain Banatwala as NTDC’s DMD (system operations). He told the meeting that prior to the appointment, Mr Banatwala was serving as a consultant in the NTDC, receiving Rs1.83m salary per month. “The age criteria was also reduced from 58 to 56 years for appointment of Mr Banatwala,” read the meeting minutes, quoting Senator Fida as having said.

Also objects to retired officer’s hefty salary

Mr Fida also asked about total number of the posts of DMD in the NTDC, to which the committee was informed that currently the company had three such slots approved by its BoD.

On a question about the DMD’s salary, Mr Ayub, an officer serving against the post and present on the occasion, told the participants that he was getting Rs0.35m per month, while Mr Banatwala and DMD Mr Manzoor Ahmad, who retired as the company’s GM, were getting Rs1.83m each per month.

The committee chairman Mr Abro stated the age limit for a candidate seeking appointment as NTDC managing director (MD) was 62 years and it was discussed in the previous meetings that no general manager (GM) was competent enough to be appointed as as the company’s MD. He also stated that an officer, Azaz Ahmed, was appointed as MD against a salary package of USD15,000 per month and he worked only for one month before leaving the company. However, the next advertisement for the post of MD mentioned the age limit as 58 years.

Power division could not so far give the reason for reduction in the age limit, he said.

“The committee was of the view that that the age limit was put at 58 years with the intention that no GM over 58 years could apply for it,” the minutes quoted the chairman as saying.

The chairman also observed that as a BoD member, Mr Banatwala could not be appointed DMD as there was a conflict of interest, adding that power division must have taken notice of it.

Showing concern over the irregularities found in the appointment of DMDs, the chairman directed the power division to provide relevant record, besides taking action against those involved in it.

Earlier, the chairman, as mentioned in the minutes, also raised questions on the process of promotion of officers in all power distribution companies (Discos) and alleged that Hesco Chief Engineer Tariq Bajari, who was facing some 14 departmental inquiries, was promoted two days before his retirement after being cleared of all inquiries in just one day. “The Hesco CEO is required to provide detail of his promotion and inquiries, along with minutes of the meetings,” the chairman said, as per the meeting minutes.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2022

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