With the government in full control of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), the top civil bureaucracy has stepped up efforts to get an Ogra member appointed of its choice by changing the hiring criteria.
The cabinet secretary and the additional cabinet secretary have taken all the affairs of the oil and gas industry regulator under their control, since the government sent Ogra Chairman Saeed Khan on forced leave.
Some officials suggest Pervaiz Khusro Khan, Additional Cabinet Secretary who is also working as member oil, is a strong candidate for the post.
Officials familiar with the development said according to the laid-down criteria in the Ogra Ordinance 2002 the member oil should be a person who holds an appropriate degree in the relevant field and is an experienced, eminent professional of known integrity and competence with a minimum 20 years of related experience in oil, including its transportation.
Earlier, the Cabinet Division had advertised the post of member oil according to the above criteria. Interviews were conducted in November 2014 by a selection committee comprising Cabinet Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad, Petroleum Secretary Abid Saeed, Ogra Chairman Saeed A Khan and former director general petroleum concession Shahid Ahmad.
After the completion of all processes, a final summary carrying names of three candidates – Azam Khan, Acting Director General Oil, Shahid Nauman Afzal, Executive Director Enforcement Oil, Ogra and an official of Attock Refinery – was sent to the prime minister for a decision.
However, before anyone could be selected, the premier suspended Azam Khan, one of the aspirants for the post of member oil, over his alleged involvement in the petrol crisis in the first week of January this year.
On February 17, Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad was given the additional charge of Ogra chairman whereas Pervaiz Khusro Khan, Additional Cabinet Secretary, was made member oil.
On February 28, the Cabinet Division gave an advertisement for the appointment of member oil, which officials describe as absolutely illegal and in violation of criteria in the Ogra ordinance.
Officials suggest that the advertisement, which was a modified version, appeared to suit a specific person of choice. The advertisement said the candidate should have experience in the area of corporate restructuring, privatisation, implementation of reforms, investment planning, development finance, sector regulation and pricing of oil products along with a demonstrable track record of senior-level policy and strategy formulation.
The requirements clearly show that some senior officers in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Division have already selected a candidate of their choice.
It should be noted that the criteria for hiring the member oil or any other member of Ogra cannot be changed or modified at the whim of any person. Only the president of Pakistan can amend the Ogra ordinance, which has not been done in this case.
Officials allege that so-called wizards sitting in the PM Office and the Cabinet Division, while taking undue advantage of the premier’s confidence, have become active in order to give benefits to their cronies rather than working according to the law, rules and regulations.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2015.