PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has initiated inquiry against the former board of directors (BoD) and its chairman, Ghulam Dastagir, for allegedly overstepping the terms of reference (ToRs) of the board and misuse of resources and authority.
Some members of the former BoD, however, termed the government’s plan to probe the board affairs as a bid to find someone to blame for its inability to get its industrial sector off the ground over the last three years.
They said the government had removed the BoD chairman and re-constituted it with secretary Industries as its chairman in November last year without fulfilling provisions as laid down in the Companies Act 2017 and Public Sector Company Governance Rules.
Ghulam Dastagir had told The International News soon after his removal that he had neither been given any notice as required under the law nor told about the reason for his removal as chairman of the BoD.
The Law Department, according to the document shared with The International News, has opined that the board or any of its members could not be removed without proper inquiry against them.
The sources told The International News that a 52-points questionnaire had been prepared and shared with the department concerned on which the probe against the ex-BoD KPEZDMC and its chairman would be initiated.
They said the Law Department had been approached for its opinion on the matter. The department was also asked to probe whether the former BoD of the KPEZDMC was run in accordance with the tenets of the corporate governance.
The Law Department’s communication with the government suggests that the department initially raised queries on the legal status of such an inquiry.
It has also said that there was no provision in the Companies Act and Rules that empowers the secretary Industries to become BoD chairman as stopgap arrangement.
The Law Department in its opinion also said the government had not mentioned the provisions of law under which the inquiry should be conducted into the allegations against the BoD.
The major points in the questionnaire included the much-trumpeted Beijing Road Show held on April 14, 2017 wherein the government had claimed to have signed 82 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Chinese companies.
However, it has now alleged that Ghulam Dastagir, used the Road Show as a platform for his personal-projection.
It also alleged that he also interfered in the day-to-day matters of the company which is against the principles of corporate governance.
It also wants to probe the issue of payment the of the Jalozai Industrial Estate landowners.
The government has also levelled conflict of interest allegations against two members, Riaz Arshad and Adeel Rauf, of the erstwhile board, saying they were partners in a business falling under the jurisdiction of the company.
When approached for comments, Ghulam Dastagir said he had not yet been contacted about the inquiry. However, he did not rule out such a probe by the government.
Regarding the Beijing Road Show, he said they (BoD and KPEZDMC) had nothing to do with the show. “It was organised by the Planning and Development (P&D) Department. We had also been taken to Beijing by the P&D department,” he maintained.
He added that four of the MoUs which related to the KPEZDMC had so far materialized. He said it included the establishment of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the Hattar Industrial Estate.
Ghulam Dastagir said: “We never ever interfered in the day-to-day matters of the company. I have never ever signed any voucher or bill of the company. I had not even responded to any of its e-mails,” he argued.
“I have never signed anything except minutes of the meetings. Whenever I was sent any letter for posting or employment by the members of provincial and national assemblies or Senate for that matter, I always asked the people concerned in the company “to do as per policy,” Ghulam Dastagir pointed out.
“The BoD was supposed to make only policy decisions and had nothing to do with the day-to-day matters of the company,” he insisted.
He said the Jalozai Industrial Estate was the project of the Sarhad Development Authority (SDA) and payment to the owners was made on the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Riaz Arshad said that his conscience was clear and he honestly served on the board. “We did not draw a penny from the company. We never took even the honorarium allowed [to us] under the corporate governance. We served selflessly to restore the confidence of the investors and business community in the economic future of the province,” he added.