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Minister accused of flouting rules




  • Caretaker Minister for Industries and Production, Shahzada Ahsan Ashraf Sheikh, during his 60-day stay in office, is said to have flouted rules and regulations to extend benefits to some companies and individuals, well informed sources told Business Recorder. The minister, however, has strongly denied these charges. 

    National Fertilizer Marketing Limited (NFML), a subsidiary of the Ministry of Industries, was his prime target courtesy Uzair Abu Bakr, a Deputy General Manager at NFML, whose services were terminated by the organisation for allegedly possessing a fake MBA degree. Uzair is also accused of being the one responsible for the urea crisis of Rabi 2011-12. 

    The sources said the Caretaker Minister not only reinstated him illegally, but in order to ensure implementation of his illegal orders, showed the door to Managing Director NFML Tariq Shafiq Khan, a former Federal Secretary, and General Manager Fakhar Cheema – individuals who reportedly refused to oblige the Minister by implementing his “illegal” orders. 

    According to sources, Managing Director and General Manager NFML were ordered to pre-qualify a transport company for urea transportation across the country, hush up the issue of fake degree and corruption charges against of Uzair Abu Bakr, carry out recruitment in NFML, release payment to Inaam & Co (a defaulting cartage contractor of 12630 Metric Tons of urea), and award labour contract to a specific company by dispensing with the existing contractor. 

    “All the demands were in clear violation of rules, so the management of NFML took a stand and refused to obey these illegal orders,” the source continued. By showing the door to MD and General Manager, Caretaker Minister Shahzada Ahsan Ashraf Sheikh first reinstated the terminated Deputy General Manager Uzair Abu Bakr on May 08, 2013, assigned him the charge of Acting General Manager on May 13, 2013. 

    The sources further stated that NFML has been accused of recruiting a good number of individuals without following procedure as laid down by Supreme Court in famous Syed Zafar Ali Shah vs. Federation of Pakistan case (1995) which makes it mandatory for all public sector entities to recruit by placing an advertisement in at least two national dailies, one Urdu and one English daily, constitute an interview/selection committee, interview by the committee etc. 

    The following are some of the names of candidates recruited on Minister”s orders: Muhammad Younis (Chakwal), Muhammad Usman Ahmad (Rawalpindi), Ms Umme Kulsoom (Lahore), Tahir Raza (Lahore), Ms Aisha Yousaf (Lahore), Syed Kashi Haider Naqvi (Karachi), Aitzaz Ahsan (Nankana Sahib), Rai Zafar Saeed (Nankana Sahib), Muhammad Irfan Asghar (Lahore), Ovais Ali Hashmi (Lahore). One of the recruited candidates namely Niazul Haq has been offered a package of Rs 100,000 and 200 litres of petrol as well which is gross violation of all rules and regulations. A manager namely Jahanzeb was re-designated as Senior Manager with a salary increase of up to Rs 75000 on May 13, 2013 – also in violation of rules. 

    A Transport Company namely Achakzai Goods Transport Company has been pre-qualified as NFML Cartage Contractor in violation of PPRA Rules 2004. The company has also been given a waiver of security deposit of Rs 15 million and no such amount received is shown in the accounts of NFML. The existing labour and tally contract for Karachi port which was due to expire on June 30, 2013 was terminated and Sindh Goods was assigned the contract without following any procedure or rules. 

    Despite the fact that NFML already has ample storage facility in Karachi namely Umair Godown, two other godowns namely Rashid Godown and Koh-e-Noor Godown have been rented on the verbal orders of Acting General Manager Uzair Abu Bakr on May 25, 2013. At present two urea ships are being discharged at Karachi and Gwador ports, and urea is being dumped at these two godowns for allegedly vested interests ignoring the space available at Umair godown. 

    When contacted, caretaker Minister for Industries and Production denied his involvement in any illegal activity during his stay in the office, adding that all the top office holders in National Fertilizer Corporation (NFC) and NFML are close to his predecessor Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Elahi”s son Chaudhry Moonis Elahi is their patron-in-chief. 

    “Whatever accusations they are levelling against me are unfounded. I have not directed recruitment of any one on the NFML. If the newly recruited employees are my blued eyed boys then sack them. I supported sacking of 700 employees in NFC and NFML recruited by Pervez Elahi,” he continued. He provided details of 700 additional employees of NFML and NFC who would be sacked by his successor. On Sunday, Minister promised to give documents against corrupt officials of NFML but on Monday he did not respond to messages sent by this correspondent. 

    In reply to a question, he accused his predecessor of receiving millions of rupees from urea transporters at the rate of Rs 280-285 per ton, adding he has requested transporters to deposit this amount in the accounts of NFML or gave it to the management. 

    “I have directed Shahid Amin, who has been given additional charge to deposit Rs 280 per ton in the accounts of the company,” the Caretaker Minister stated and claimed further that G M Sikandar, a former bureaucrat and Advisor to the Ministry, is behind the restoration of terminated and suspended officials. “Secretary Establishment has confirmed to me that G M Sikandar is behind the reinstatement of NFC, and NMFL officials,” he further added. 

    In reply to a question, he claimed that Uzair Abu Bakar has provided information on wrongdoings of incumbent team in the NFML. He also wrote letters to the Supreme Court against the corrupt officials. He said he will write a note for the next government to send their cases to NAB and when asked why he did not do this himself before the leaving the office of Minister, he said he could have done so if Secretary of the Ministry co-operated with him. 

    Copyright Business Recorder, 2013

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