Cabinet to mull SNGPL MD hiring

Petroleum Division has moved summary for consideration in Tuesday’s meeting

Zafar Bhutta December 15, 2020


Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) board of directors has turned down reports of intelligence agencies and has recommended the same candidates for appointment as head of the public utility.

Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office had sought report of intelligence agencies on the credentials and financial integrity of existing SNGPL Acting Managing Director Amer Tufail and SNGPL General Manager Sohail Gulzar.

Negative reports had revealed issues of nepotism and financial integrity of these two officials respectively. The PM Office also asked the Petroleum Division in January this year to revisit the proposal and called for removing the current managing director from office. In a recent development, the Petroleum Division moved a summary to the cabinet for consideration in its meeting scheduled for Tuesday (today).

SNGPL was established as a public limited company in 1964 under the then Companies Act 1913. It is working under administrative control of the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division). The government of Pakistan owns 57.76% (direct and indirect) shares in SNGPL.

As per Rule 5(2) of the Public Sector Companies (Corporate Governance) Rules 2013 as amended up to 2017 (the Rules), the board shall evaluate candidates based on the fit-and-proper criteria and guidelines specified by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) for appointment to the position of chief executive. After evaluation, the board shall recommend at least three candidates to the federal government for its concurrence and appointment of one from the panel as the managing director.

The advertisement for the position of SNGPL MD/CEO was published on September 8, 2019. In order to shortlist candidates, the SNGPL board engaged the services of Sidat Hyder Morshed Associates (Pvt) Limited, an HR consultant/ headhunting firm, which received a total of 115 applications against the advertised position.

The headhunting firm, as per the approved criteria and the Public Sector Companies (Appointment of Chief Executive) Guidelines 2015, shortlisted 15 candidates.

The HR and nomination committee of the board carried out interviews of the 15 shortlisted candidates and subsequently, the board after due deliberation recommended the names of three candidates - Amer Tufail, Ali Javed Hamdani and Sohail Gulzar - in order of preference for appointment as the managing director of SNGPL.

The Petroleum Division said that the summary regarding the appointment of SNGPL MD/CEO was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office on January 1, 2020.

The same was returned on the premise that low-down reports in respect of the candidates at Serial No 1 and 3 of Para 4 of the summary reflect negative remarks on account of nepotism and financial integrity, respectively. Therefore, the Petroleum Division was asked to revisit the matter and resubmit it accordingly.

The aforesaid observations were conveyed to the board for deliberation and appropriate decision. Thereafter, the board constituted a fact-finding committee to ascertain the observations and submit its report.

Accordingly, the committee presented its findings to the board in its 560th meeting held on October 3, 2020 and after due deliberation, the board unanimously decided that the Petroleum Division may be informed that the fact-finding committee could not find sufficient evidence in support of the negative remarks in the low-down reports against the two officers.

The board said that Sohail Gulzar (placed at Serial No 3 of the panel submitted to the PM Office) withdrew his candidature for the position of SNGPL MD, therefore, the earlier submitted panel of three shortlisted candidates was not intact anymore if the withdrawal was treated as accepted.

Accordingly, the board sought permission of the division for initiating a fresh process for the appointment of SNGPL MD/CEO. It was submitted that Rule 5(2) of the Rules mandates that at least three names shall be recommended to the federal government for seeking its concurrence and appointment of one as the chief executive of a public sector company.

The above position was conveyed to the PM Office, with the request to either allow the division to start the process of appointment of MD/CEO afresh in order to comply with Rule 5(2) or in light of the deadline of three months, given by the prime minister during a meeting of the cabinet held on October 27, 2020, the panel in the summary may be placed before the cabinet for appointment of one amongst them as the SNGPL MD/CEO.

In response, the prime minister was pleased to approve that the division shall place the panel of two candidates ie Amer Tufail and Ali Hamdani before the cabinet for appointment of one of the candidates as the SNGPL MD/CEO.

In light of the direction of the prime minister, approval of the cabinet is solicited for appointment of one of the candidates out of the first two candidates as the MD/CEO SNGPL, on a contract basis, for a period of three years. When contacted, a Petroleum Division spokesperson told The Express Tribune, “The PM Office never turned down names of Amer and Sohail. It only asked to review the nominations in view of negative purported reports.”

The official added that the matter was referred back to the SNGPL board for deliberations. The board constituted a fact-finding committee, which carried out a detailed probe and came to the conclusion that no evidence was found to corroborate the charges of nepotism or corruption against the two officials. “This report was shared with the PM Office.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2020.

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