ISLAMABAD: Boards of directors of oil and gas companies are currently in the process of hiring permanent heads of these firms but they allegedly want to hire people of their choice by manipulating the set criteria, officials say.
Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC), Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), Pakistan LNG Terminals and Government Holdings Private Limited (GHPL) are looking for permanent heads to run the companies.
They have no uniform policy and have set different age criteria for appointing the managing director despite all of them being state-run companies.
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Some companies have given no age limit while inviting applications, which is surprising. Advertisements were given by most of the companies during the tenure of previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government and now they are in the process of making appointments.
They also have sought different years of experience from the applicants as some are seeking 15 years of experience and some 20 years.
At present, PSO is being run by the acting managing director after the former head was not given contract extension. The company’s board of directors has no chairman and its members are civil servants who are either retired or serving in ministries.
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The PSO management has sent an advertisement to the Petroleum Division for its approval in order to set the age limit for the new MD at 60 years.
Officials, however, were of the view that the proposed age limit would not help bring talented professionals from the market as no one would be ready to leave his/her current job to join PSO for just a few years. It was against the principal of fairness of competition, they said.
“The subject is the prerogative of the Ministry of Energy,” said a PSO spokesperson when asked for comments.
Separately, OGDC - the country’s largest oil and gas explorer - gave the advertisement in February 2018 to hire the new MD. The ad had no condition of work experience in an oil and gas exploration company and no age ceiling.
Following the publication of the ad, the OGDC board of directors recommended names of candidates who were working in companies providing services to the oil and gas explorer.
These names were also recommended by the OGDC board in an earlier attempt to hire the MD.
“Initiation of the process of appointing the MD falls within the domain of the board of directors,” responded an OGDC spokesperson when his comments were sought.
“The role of federal government starts once the board forwards a panel of shortlisted candidates in the order of precedence to the government. The entire process is governed in accordance with provisions of the Companies Act 2017, Public Sector Companies Corporate Governance Rules 2013 and Articles of Association of the Company,” the spokesperson said.
Regarding the age limit, the official said the board at the time of initial shortlisting had decided not to consider any applicant above 60 years of age and there was no exception.
PPL also advertised the post of MD with no age limit. A company spokesperson said the process of recruitment in public sector companies, including PPL, was defined in the Public Sector Companies (Appointment of Chief Executive) Guidelines 2015.
“These guidelines have no age restriction for the appointment of the CEO. Section 187 empowers the board to appoint a subsequent CEO, who can be an elected director.”
Furthermore, the spokesperson said, there was no provision in the Companies Act 2017 which restricted the elected director - a retired government officer - from being appointed as the CEO.
However, the GHPL board set the age limit at 55 years. Earlier, the SSGC board had set 62 years as the age ceiling for appointing the new head.
Officials suggest that the government should dissolve the boards first and then reconstitute all of them in order to hire experienced professionals. Preference should be given to people who have worked in energy companies and have retired from them after extensive experience, they said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2018.
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