Old guards become part of decision making | The Express Tribune



The government has notified a selection committee to shortlist candidates to fill the positions of commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), bringing the old finance ministry guards back to the decision-making process.

The SECP – the equity and corporate sector regulator – is currently working with only two commissioners, including the chairman, against the statutory five positions. Two positions fell vacant 15 months ago and one in December last year.

The Ministry of Finance notified a seven-member committee that would be headed by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail. Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Finance Secretary Hamid Yaqoob Sheikh and additional secretary are members of the committee from the government side.

The government has also included former finance secretary and former central bank governor Tariq Bajwa, another former finance secretary Shahid Mahmood and former Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman Tariq Pasha as members of the committee.

The three former bureaucrats have served with former finance minister Ishaq Dar and have been his close confidante. Their inclusion in the committee indicates that the finance minister has broadened his inner circle to the people who have also remained close to the former finance minister.

The selection committee will conduct interviews of eligible and shortlisted candidates for the post of SECP commissioners. The committee will recommend a panel of at least three candidates for approval of the federal government under the SECP Act 1997.

Owing to the vacant positions, the SECP’s functions have been adversely affected as the entire burden is shifted on to the shoulders of two commissioners. The commission is responsible for taking policy and enforcement decisions.

The SECP’s appellate tribunals have also become dysfunctional, which has blocked the justice system. The affected parties can file an appeal before the appellate benches against the decision of the commission.

The bench should comprise two members, excluding the one who has issued the order.

The previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had issued two separate advertisements for hiring the commissioners. But out of the two ads, one that had been re-issued in December last year to appoint two commissioners has lapsed. The maximum validity of the advertisement is four months.

At present, only one advertisement, issued in March this year, for hiring one commissioner, is valid.

As part of conditions of a $300 million loan, the Asian Development Bank has asked Pakistan to bring amendments to the SECP Act and the Securities Act.

The proposed legislation suggests the criteria for the appointment of chairman and members of the SECP.

The bill provides three modes of appointment that can be adopted by the selection committee for the post of commissioners, chairman and members of the policy board.

The appointment can be made through an advertisement in newspapers, requesting application by invitation and appointing a head-hunting firm.

Some clarity has also been given to the role of SECP chairman and decision-making by the commission as a collegiate body and other measures to improve transparency in the functioning of the commission.

After the initial appointment for three years, the chairman or commissioner can get an extension of tenure for a further period of two years after the review of performance by the
federal government.

At present, the extension can be made for three years by the government without any performance review.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2022.

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