Human resource: NBP struggling in multiple facets

Outdated staff service rules, preference of contractual employees causing dismay.

Shahbaz Rana July 22, 2014

ISLAMABAD: As performance of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) worsens, the management is struggling to cope with challenges in improving the human resource of the state-owned entity —an area that remains neglected, causing resentment among employees.

The bank has over time sustained heavy losses due to a number of fraud cases that took place overseas, and currently a few domestic branches are facing yet another challenge — how to improve the deteriorating human resource, according to officials privy to the discussions taking place at the level of NBP management and Board of Directors.

Due to outdated staff service rules, preference to contractual employees over regular ones, delay in finalisation of annual performance appraisals and less attractive salaries, the NBP’s workforce has weakened over the years. The regular employees of the bank are frustrated for being ignored when it comes to promotions.

Recently, the NBP’s Bangladesh operations sustained over Rs12 billion in losses. Some cases with billions of rupees frauds at branches located in Sindh and Punjab have also recently surfaced. Majority of the bank’s branches are not electronically linked. The Non-Performing Loans against domestic operations also stand at very high levels and there are no significant recoveries either, according to the officials.

According to an office note of the Institutional Disciplinary Wing about Bangladesh operation losses, all tiers, starting from country operation, to regional office and finally to head office, have failed to check the embezzlement going on in Bangladesh. The office note highlights the breakup of an institutional structure at one of the top five banks of the country.

Instead of taking those responsible for Bangladesh operations to task, the NBP’s Board of Directors recently hired the services of a senior executive. The same senior executive under whose watch the bank sustained Rs12 billion losses. The Board of Directors is also not accountable for its actions, said the sources.

The bank has been mistreated and neglected over the years and there is a need to revamp the human resources department, according to an official who is currently involved in the exercise of reviewing the whole human resource infrastructure of the bank.

He agreed that the revised Staff Services Rules of 1980 were ignored over the years. The bank’s management was in process of reviewing these rules.

At the same time, the management is facing the challenge of striking a balance between the contractual, regular officers and executives of the bank. The sources said the tilt of the new management was in favour of contractual employees and, in the process, recruitment procedures have been compromised.

The regular employees feel that they have been sidelined and their career progression has been blocked due to increasing preference towards contractual employees. They argued that in presence of twelve executive vice presidents who were waiting for promotions, the NBP management has hired two senior executive vice presidents and wanted to bring in five more senior executives.

The official agreed that there was not a procedure when it came to appointing people at executive positions. He said in the next NBP Board meeting, the management was going to review the career planning of the regular employees.

He said in the next couple of weeks the promotions will also be finalised while admitting that the annual performance appraisals were delayed without justification. The management and the board were also in consultation process to finalise new pay package for the NBP employee, he added.

The response of the NBP spokesman was awaited till the filing of this story.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.

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