Govt selection bodies may replace boards of state units

New committees of public sector firms will comprise private sector experts

Zafar Bhutta March 19, 2019
Ninety-one key organisations have been selected in the first phase for adopting the merit-based system of selection of chief executives. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is working on a proposal to clip the wings of board of directors of 91 public sector companies and corporations which, if approved, will take away powers of appointing heads of these companies.

The government is seeking to replace boards of public sector companies with a selection committee comprising private-sector experts. In this regard, the Establishment Division submitted a plan in a recent meeting of the cabinet for its approval.

While proposing a uniform system of appointing heads of state-owned companies, the Establishment Division sought amendment to Rule 5(2) of the Public Sector Companies Corporate Governance Rules 2013, according to which the board of directors of these companies would be replaced by a selection committee constituted with approval of the federal government.

According to the proposal, the selection committee will recommend shortlisted suitable candidates for appointment as head of a state-owned company. The composition of the committee will vary according to the nature of the company and its area of work.

Its chairperson will be an eminent person of integrity and competence outside of the government.

A selection committee of three to five members, headed by an eminent person of repute from outside of the government, will consist of a secretary of the Administrative Division, three experts or specialists from the academia and private sector inside or outside of Pakistan in the field where the institution concerned worked. One of the three experts will be appointed chairperson of the selection committee by the prime minister. The ministry and division concerned will carry out secretariat functions including preparation of record of all the candidates eligible for interview.

Sources revealed that the Finance Division had agreed to the proposed uniform appointment policy for the constitutional bodies, regulatory bodies and autonomous bodies in the federal government. However, in view of the establishment of Sarmaya-e-Pakistan Limited (SPL), the recommendation for key appointments in public sector companies will be made by the SPL board and the proposed uniform appointment policy may be followed till that time, cabinet members noted in the meeting.

During discussions, it was highlighted that the government was committed to upholding merit and de-politicising the bureaucracy as well as ensuring political oversight in the decision-making process. However, it was agreed that the proposal required further consideration.

It was pointed out that 91 key organisations had been selected in the first phase for adopting the merit-based system of selection of chief executives. These organisations include constitutional offices, statutory bodies, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, corporations, public sector companies, banks governed by the Banking Nationalisation Act, attached and other government departments.

It was noted that strengthening the institutions was a first step towards achieving the goal of improved governance. There was a large number of organisations and departments, which played a key role in social and economic development of the country.

Introducing the merit based-system would send a strong signal relating to the government commitment to strengthening the institutions, the meeting was told.

The cabinet directed the minister for law and justice, adviser to prime minister on institutional reforms and Establishment Division secretary to revisit the proposal in order to simplify the procedure and also re-examine the list of 91 organisations before the matter was again presented for review. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2019.

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