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ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet has questioned perks and privileges available to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) as audit reports unearthed 72 violations in funds utilization, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

NDRMF was a not-for-profit company incorporated with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, under Section 42 of Companies Act 2017.

It is a government-owned non-banking financial intermediary with a corporate structure which works towards reducing the socio-economic and fiscal vulnerability of the country and safeguard its population from natural hazards and climate change, through financing investments in disaster risk reduction and preparedness that have high economic impact.

In line with the Section 187(3) of the Companies Act, 2017, the Board of Directors (BoD) in its 17th meeting held on March 20, 2020 recommended to the Cabinet to approve continuation of incumbent CEO Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed (Retd) till his successor was appointed.

The Cabinet, being the competent Authority gave an extension of 5 months from April 13, 2020 to the incumbent CEO in public interest and to maintain efficient management of the NDRMF. The process for: hiring of a new CEO could not be initiated due to pending procedural approvals from the BoD of NDRMF. The term of Lt-Gen Nadeem Ahmed (Retd) expired on September 12, 2020.

The BoD in its 19th meeting held on September 4, 2020 deliberated in detail on the interim arrangements for the post of CEO NDRMF on additional/acting charge basis till the appointment of a full time CEO in order to ensure smooth functioning and continuation of NDRMF's day-to-day affairs.

The BoD requested Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change to refer the matter to the Minister In-Charge, the Ministry of Climate Change/Prime Minister of Pakistan for making temporary arrangements by appointing any suitable person on additional/acting charge till the appointment of a full time CEO NDRMF through formal process. In addition, the BOD also approved the amended selection criteria and ToRs/job description for the post of the CEO, NDRMF.

The BoD authorized the Company Secretary, on its behalf, to advertise the post of CEO in compliance with provisions of applicable laws.

In compliance with the decision of BoD, the position of CEO NDRMF was advertised in leading newspapers as well as on the Company's website for broader circulation.

The Prime Minister being the Minister-in-Charge while nominating the Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, to look after the affairs of NDRMF for a period of two months or till the appointment of a regular CEO NDRMF, had desired that the matter be placed before the Federal Cabinet for consideration.

Recently, Climate Change Division solicited the approval of the Cabinet to allow the Secretary, Climate Change Division, to look after the affairs of NDRMF for a period of two months or till the appointment of a regular CEO.

During discussion, the exorbitant pay package of the incumbent CEO and the administrative expenses of the fund, close to Rs. 125 million per month, were highlighted. Assessment of the need for NDRMF, as an independent entity, was underlined. Another suggestion was given to place this multi-sectoral Fund under Planning & Development Division while yet another proposal was to place it under the Finance Division, with the provision that expenditure from the Fund would be carried out with the concurrence of donors.

The Climate Change Division informed that the audit report of the Fund had been received, which contained more than 72 audit paras. It was also apprised that the process for appointment of regular CEO would be completed by the first week of October. The members agreed to constitute a Committee to give recommendations on most apt management structure for the NDRMF.

The Cabinet further constituted the following committee to tender recommendations on the future administrative structure and placement of NDRMF:(i) Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives (Convener); (ii) Minister for Economic Affairs and; (iii) Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change. The Climate Change Division was tasked to notify the Committee and provide it the requisite secretarial support.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020