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Conflict of interest: Munir Kamal resigns from PC Board
[January 18, 2014]

Conflict of interest: Munir Kamal resigns from PC Board

(Express Tribune (Pakistan) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Opting to take the high moral ground, Munir Kamal, brother of Privatisation Commission Board Chairman Mohammad Zubair, has decided to surrender his membership after questions raised over his impartiality.

Official sources in the Ministry of Finance and Privatisation told The Express Tribune that Kamal has informed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of his decision. However, it is not clear whether the PM has allowed him to leave the post. The government has not yet de-notified Kamal, according to an official of the Ministry of Privatisation.

Under the Privatisation Ordinance of 2000, there should be a minimum of six members of the PC Board and with Kamal’s decision to quit, the board has become dysfunctional for all practical purposes.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reconstituted the board and appointed six members of his choice. His decision came after he disapproved the original list of proposed members sent by the PC and, instead, provided one of his own.

Before the reconstitution of the PC Board, the PM had appointed Zubair as the chairman of the PC. Zubair was a key member of the PML-N election manifesto committee and served as the chairman of the Board of Investment before he was requested to lead the PC.

Responsibility of ensuring transparency and earning maximum gains for the state has been given to the board of the PC. The government has committed with the International Monetary Fund to privatise 32 state-owned entities during its tenure.

During the first phase, the PC board has already cleared eight entities for privatisation and off loading their shares in the stock market. It has given a go-ahead to appoint the financial advisors for working of the transaction structures. These entities include Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Oil and Gas Development Company, Habib Bank Limited, United Bank Limited and Allied Bank Limited.

The PC was doing the paper work for inviting Expression of Interests (EOIs) for the appointment of FAs for these entities, according to ministry’s officials. The EOIs will be issued by next week, they added.

Kamal is also the brother of Asad Umar, PTI’s MNA from Islamabad constituency and is also the Karachi Stock Exchange Board of Directors’ chairman and holds the same post at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). He is a leading contender for the post of NBP president as well.

Kamal has over 33 years of experience in the banking and financial sector and is a former Citibank banker. However, his relation with the Chairman put a question mark over his impartiality. He has confirmed his resignation from the board to The Express Tribune.

With Kamal’s decision to leave the PC board, the pressure on those PC members, who are closer to the ruling party, will increase to quit, avoiding conflict of interest aimed at ensuring maximum transparency in the privatisation process, according to analysts.

The PC has proposed the premier half a dozen fresh names, requesting him to appoint them as members aimed at strengthening the board. The PC board cannot function until the PM decides to appoint at least one new member to fulfil the minimum requirement of six members, according to PC officials.

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