PESHAWAR: With the provincial government hoping to raise revenue and boost employment by attracting foreign investment, its premier industrial economic zone company has been dealt a massive blow after a senior member of its board called it quits.
The move has called into question the performance of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company’s (K-PEZDMC) board.
K-PEZDMC’s board member, former civil servant Sahibzada Saeed Ahmad has resigned. Apart from serving on the K-PEZDMCs’ board, the retired bureaucrat also heads the provincial government’s Strategic Support Unit (SSU) and chairs the board of directors of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organization (PEDO).
He has communicated his resignation to K-P Industries Secretary — who also heads K-PEZDMC board - via an e-mail, urging him to remove his name from the board soon.
In his resignation, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, Ahmad has cited the large size of the company’s board as a major factor affecting the company’s performance.
He complained that for the past seven months, the large size of the board had made it difficult to get all the members to convene for a board meeting. “The nub of the problem is the larger size of our board,” he said, adding that unless the board’s size is reduced, it will further hamper the delivery of the company in the future.
The K-PEZDMC had been created in the last tenure of the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in K-P for rapid industrialization of the province to create jobs and to take advantage of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It’s article of association states that board shall comprise 21 members.
However, Ahmad termed this figure “excessive number by any account,” and notes that the large size of the board creates multiple issues which include difficulty in arranging meeting due to varying schedules of the board members and thus deferring crucial agenda items for months. He advised the K-PEZDMC chairman to limit the size of the board to 5-10 members which, according to Ahmed, will be a far more effective size for the company’s board and will reflect practices of the corporate sector in Pakistan.
On the occasions that the board managed to meet, the numerous conflicting opinions of members became the major focus or diverted attention towards discussions which were unproductive. This thwarted the decision-making process and caused severe delays in achieving various imperative milestones and objectives.
“Mostly, in every board meeting, major discussions are done on trivial matter leaving very little or no time to focus on delivery,” he stated.
“Such issues have led to undesirable outcomes with significant delays in achieving the major delivery targets related to the mandate of the company,” Ahmad notes in the resignation.
Sources said that apart from the functional issues highlighted by Ahmad in his resignation, the former bureaucrat had had an argument with another board member during its 23rd meeting.
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The argument stemmed over a report of the company’s human resource committee — which Ahmad used to chair. In the report, the HR committee had recommended — in line with directions from the Peshawar High Court — that the board reinstate two senior executives of the company including its chief financial officer (CFO) and it’s chief human resource officer who had been fired by last board of the company in August 2017. The controversial firings had ultimately led to the dissolution of the K-PEZDMC’s former board and the creation of the incumbent board in November 2017.
Apart from citing directives from the PHC to restore the two officers, Ahmad had told the K-PEXDMC’s board that sacking two executives had impacted the company’s performance. But after an argument erupted on the matter in the meeting, Ahmad stopped attending the board’s meetings.
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Senior officials in K-PEZDMC who did not wish to be named for fear of being caught in the firestorm termed the resignation of such an experienced member a blow to the company. A senior official at the K-PEZDMC also called the resignation a “setback” for the company and termed the reservations raised by Ahmad “valid points.”
Another official of the company called the e-mail’s contents a “charge-sheet” for the board.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2018.
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