The first in a series of expected departures of political appointees occurred on Monday when the chief executive officer (CEO) of GENCOs Holding Company Limited (GHCL), Naveed Ismail, was removed from his position with immediate effect.
The decision was taken by the head of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Syed Raghab Abbas Shah. Wapda was given complete administrative control of the entire power sector by former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, after poor performance and electricity breakdowns had plunged the country into an energy crisis.
According to sources, Ismail was reportedly a close acquaintance of former water and power minister, Ahmad Mukhtar and was tasked to convert furnace oil-based power plants into coal-based plants to generate cheaper electricity. An official statement on the termination of Ismail’s contract read that “on account of poor performance, the contract of CEO, GHCL has been terminated as per procedure on the direction of competent authority by Chairman Wapda with immediate effect. The charge of CEO GHCL has been assigned to Sultan Muhammad Zafar, CEO GENCO-III.”Sources revealed that secretaries of other ministries have also planned to terminate the services of those heads of state-run companies who were appointed on political grounds.
The water and power ministry had issued the notification of Ismail’s appointment on February 17, 2012. Contrary to normal practice, the position was neither advertised nor was the pay package and tenure decided at the time of appointment.
According to insiders, soon after Ismail’s appointment, controversy erupted over his salary package which was revised from the initial demand of Rs4 million, which was refused by the board of directors of Gencos Holding, to Rs1.9 million per month package.
Despite various interventions by Ahmad Mukhtar, the revised package was not approved for more than six months, during which time Ismail kept on working on gratis basis. His arrears have now reached over Rs21 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2013.