ISLAMABAD: State-run public utility Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has failed to attract a competent professional for the position of managing director, apparently because professionals are reluctant to join public-sector companies for fear of inquiry by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Company management has now been asked to start the process afresh for hiring the permanent managing director.
Sources told The Express Tribune that a committee of the SSGC board had shortlisted nine candidates but no one succeeded in securing the required marks to qualify for the post of managing director.
According to officials, the fear of NAB is keeping highly qualified professionals away from being part of the state-run companies.
At present, four former managing directors of SSGC are facing inquiries in relation to some projects. According to officials, these projects had been approved by the company's board of directors where the government also had its nominees.
Earlier, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood had drawn the attention of Prime Minister Imran Khan that qualified professionals from the private sector were not willing to vie to become heads of state-owned companies due to the fear of NAB.
He told the premier that the Commerce Division could not be able to appoint a good professional as chairman of State Life Insurance Corporation.
The Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) had vetted the advertisements published to hire new managing directors of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and SSGC. Both companies gave the advertisements in March 2019.
In response to the applications filed, nine candidates including the current acting managing director of SSGC were shortlisted. They were required to secure 75 marks to qualify to become the SSGC head.
However, the candidates got only 45 to 50 marks, sources said, adding that the nomination committee of the SSGC board later informed the Petroleum Division that no candidate could be able to meet criteria for the position.
Officials said the Petroleum Division asked SSGC to start afresh the process of hiring the permanent managing director. Now, a new advertisement would be given to seek application from the candidates, officials said.
"Yes, but it was the recommendation of the SSGC board of directors to redo the process that was approved by the government," said a spokesperson for the Petroleum Division.
SSGC did not respond to the request for comment.
"NAB has great regard for the business community. It considers that the business community is the backbone of development in the country," said a NAB spokesperson.
Therefore, the official said, NAB Chairman Justice Javed Iqbal addressed the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Karachi, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry in order to address grievances of the business community as per law.
The chairman has not only established a special desk at the NAB headquarters but has also set up cells in all regional bureaus of NAB throughout the country, the spokesperson said.
Furthermore, the official said, on the request of businessmen, the NAB chairman had decided to refer cases of sales tax and income tax to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) three months ago, which was appreciated by the businessmen.
"NAB has reviewed and is implementing new amendments to the NAB Ordinance 1999 after completion of all formalities as per law," the spokesperson said.
The two companies - SNGPL and SSGC - had started the process of hiring their new managing director at the same time.
The human resources committee of the SNGPL board of directors shortlisted 15 candidates and interviewed five of them. Later, the board recommended three names which included Amir Tufail, Suhail Gulzar and Ali Hamdani.
The Petroleum Division sent a summary to the prime minister with the recommendation to select one of the candidates as the new SNGPL head.
Now, the PM Office will send the panel of candidates to the intelligence agencies for clearance. Afterwards, their names will be tabled before the cabinet for approval.
Amir Tufail features on top of the list according to the merit order. He is the deputy managing director of SNGPL and is currently holding the charge of managing director.
Other names included Suhail Gulzar, senior managing director of SNGPL and Ali Hamdani. Hamdani has worked with German firm Siemens and has been appointed chief executive officer of National Power Parks Management Company (Private) Limited.