PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) terminated the services of its Chief Financial Officer (CFO), triggering a controversy as the fired official has accused the company of exerting undue pressure for unjustified release of funds.
This would be the second major blow suffered by the KPEZDMC – a company owned by the K-P government – after its CEO Syed Muhammad Mohsin was arrested by the Punjab chapter of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in May this year.
The firm’s board fired CFO Shahid Iqbal Khattak and chief human resource officer Jawad Amin on Thursday, with immediate effect.
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Khattak told The Express Tribune that the K-P Chief Minister and other top officials of the company, including its Chairman and CEO, wanted to inaugurate the Jalozai Industrial Estate in Nowshera, for which the company needed Rs682 million to pay the remaining compensation to land owners.
“They (the CEO and Chairman) had been forcing me to release the money from the company’s existing resources and I was resisting because (if I did what they wanted) the company would have no money left to pay for salaries of its employees,” Khattak said, adding that the company was provided Rs1 billion by the K-P finance department as grant-in-aid in 2015 when it was established.
“Over the past two years, we have spent a portion of that amount … We still have around Rs600 million. They wanted me to provide this money for the Jalozai land compensation so that it could be inaugurated. I refused because they had no (repayment) plan as the Jalozai Industrial Estate would take time to be able to pay the money back,” Khattak explained.
He said that if the provincial finance department asked him about the money, he would have had no explanation.
He also said that they were in the process of securing Rs500 million from the K-P finance department under bridge financing for the Jalozai Industrial Estate’s land compensation, but the money was not released yet.
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They had another option – to divert funds from slow moving development schemes – but that was also not feasible as progress of all schemes was good.
Minutes of Thursday’s board meeting showed that it also approved the release of Rs682 million.
Khattak said that the release of funds was earlier not on the meeting’s agenda.
“Everything, including minutes of the meeting and implementation on decisions (was done) on the same day.”
The firm’s chairman, Ghulam Dastagir, maintained: “They were removed on the basis of their performance and upon the recommendations of the company’s human resource committee.”
Referring to the Jalozai payment issue, he said that the company had been ordered by the court for paying the remaining compensation money to land owners along with daily mark-up.
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He said that it was not as if the money was being asked for anyone’s personal use “It will be used for the industrial estate which has been lying incomplete for years … What would be the difference between us and the SDA (Sarhad Development Authority which the incumbent government abolished and established KPEZDMC instead) if we don’t deliver?” he said, adding that the board also had members from the private sector and they wanted progress.
A company official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that chief human resource officer Jawad Amin was resisting fresh recruitments and this might be the reason for his removal.
Amin refuted Dastagir’s allegations against him.
He said that he was strictly following the company’s policy on recruitment.