The appointment of new chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has sparked a controversy as the Supreme Court has noted that potential candidates having relevant experience in the oil and gas sector have been ignored in the process of selection.
According to a senior government official, the apex court has sent notices to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and the Cabinet Division, seeking explanation about the appointment of Ogra Chairman Saeed Khan in violation of set procedures.
The chairman is said to have no experience of working in the oil and gas sector – a pre-condition for appointment as Ogra chief.
In the recent past too, the Supreme Court had declared the appointment of former Ogra chairman Tauqeer Sadiq as illegal and directed the government to follow set parameters that deal with relevant experience in the oil and gas sector.
The fresh move came after Nasir Muneer, who had vied for the post, complained to the court that the government had ignored competent candidates while selecting the Ogra chief.
Giving details, he told the court that the Cabinet Division advertised the post of Ogra chairman on December 14, 2011 and in response 120 applications were filed. Of these, nine candidates were shortlisted for appearance before the interviewing committee comprising Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and officials of the cabinet and Establishment Division.
Of the nine candidates, seven gave interview to the committee. Only two candidates including petroleum ministry’s Additional Secretary Naeem Malik and Nasir Muneer had experience of working in the oil and gas sector.
“The committee dropped the name of Nasir Muneer and the Cabinet Division sent a summary to the prime minister containing three names including Naeem Malik, Saeed Khan and Itrat Razvi,” the court was told.
Only Naeem Malik had experience of regulating the oil and gas sector while Itrat Rizvi had been assistant secretary in Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and had also been attached with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
However, the prime minister approved the appointment of Saeed Khan, who had no experience of regulating the oil and gas sector.
Muneer claimed that he had 32 years of experience in the oil and gas sector and had also worked with the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP). He has a PhD degree in economics and has specially focused on petroleum development and management.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2012.
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