KARACHI: During a visit to Karachi on Monday, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue proposed a third-party audit of the appointments made by the government to the National Bank of Pakistan.
Furthermore the NA body ordered that it be possible to pick an audit company from the current State Bank of Pakistan panel (SBP).
A NA standing committee meeting was held at the SBP, chaired by MNA Faiz Ullah Kamoka. The committee was briefed by SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir on the central bank’s desired amendments relevant to the Banking Services Corporation (BSC) Act. He clarified that to ensure smooth operations of the BSC, these amendments were required.
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The SBP Governor and Deputy Governor of Banking Jameel Ahmad briefed the committee on the ‘Fit and Proper Examination’ of the incumbent President NBP with regard to another agenda item relevant to the National Bank. Baqir, Ahmad and SBP BSC Managing Director Muhammed Ashraf Khan later referred to the NA standing committee’s numerous queries.
The committee overwhelmingly approved the Banking Services Amendment Bill, 2020, after extensive deliberations. Nevertheless the members of the committee shared concern about the requirements needed for that position and the discrepancies in President NBP’s degree (qualifications).
Ahmad clarified that because of his extensive experience spread over three-and-a-half decades in the banking sector, the services of NBP President Arif Usmani were suggested.
The chairman of the NA committee was of the opinion that before he was selected as the president of the National Bank, the government had to clear past claims against Usmani’s previous track record.
On that day, the president of the NBP briefed the committee on the recruiting status of the bank’s workers from 2019 to 2020. Usmani said that his citizens were the most important aspect of any company and that was particularly true of a service organisation such as a bank. He added that the consistency of NBP’s Senior Resources in a range of disciplines was described as a significant gap, as demonstrated by a large number of unaddressed audit comments suggesting lack of commitment to fix them, persistent abuses, culminating in reputational damage and lack of public confidence.
The President of the NBP further claimed that the recruiting process was carried out following the approved policy and process for external recruitment of the current Board. He told the committee that, appropriately, all senior positions were marketed internally (within the bank). Internal candidates were tested and shortlisted in interviews with qualified voters, but none of them were considered to be up to the mark, he explained.
Usmani added that in their sectors, the new hires were very experienced, had skills in their roles and had an established track record of collaborating with top organisations.
The president of the NBP also called the committee’s attention to the transparency mechanism launched around the board, in which two Senior Executive Vice Presidents (SEVPs) and five EVPs were dismissed to make NBP a profitable organisation. He was of the view that the new sequence of allegations was a response to the disciplinary improvement steps that were being taken.
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The members of the NA committee shared their concern about the educational requirements highlighted for the recruiting of senior officers at the bank. Any committee members noticed that the move appeared to be in defiance of the recruiting policy of the bank.