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ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) is said to have failed to get Federal Cabinet’s nod for two-year extension to CEO Engineering Development Board (EDB), after Minister for Law and Justice held that the proposal needs amending the EDB rules and service rules, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

The Industries and Production Division briefed the Cabinet on January 11, 2022 that Raza Abbas Shah, CEO, EDB was appointed in MP-I Scale after obtaining approval of Federal Cabinet by the Establishment Division on December 2019 for a period of two years. He joined the organization on December 19, 2019 and completed his tenure on December 18, 2021.

The CEO, whose term expired on December 18, 2021, is still sitting in the office, with the blessings of incumbent Secretary Industries and Production.

According to the summary, prepared by the Ministry on “external” interference, the performance of the CEO has placed before the Board of Management in its 48th meeting held on August 23, 2021, and the Board in consideration of his performance and to ensure continuity in framing/ implementing policies, unanimously recommended extension in the contract period of the CEO for a further period of two years with effect from the expiry of the contract, i.e., Dec 18, 2021, subject to relevant rules in the matter and the approval of the government.

The MoI&P, in its summary, has claimed that during his tenure, Raza Abbas Shah led EDB functional groups in framing/ implementing various policies and initiatives including but not limited to incentives packages for Electrical Vehicle manufacturing, the first ever Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy and Comprehensive Tariff Rationalization/ Budget & Competitiveness exercises for FY 2020-21 and 2021-22. Furthermore, he led implementation of initiatives under the Performance Agreement Contract, of which high impact ones include Development of Auto Industry Development & Export policy (AIDEP 2021-26), Electronic Equipment Manufacturing policy and Reform/ Policy Package for Domestic Appliances Sector and Duty & Tax Remission for Exports (DTRE) for engineering industry.

EDB CEO's appointment notification issued

The ministry said that in addition to this, the CEO also led overall engineering industry development and export plan for major engineering goods and services sectors, preparing policy/ roadmap for steel sector with the objective to build a basis for a globally competitive steel industry, updating of list of locally manufactured engineering goods under Custom General Order (CGO) and SRO 693 which was last updated in 2017, and actively pursuing EDBs administrative matters like EDB Act with the concerned quarters for an early resolution. However, official documents reveal that several cases of wrongdoings in EDB have officially been reported by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in which officers of organizations were found involved. These officers have extended undue financial benefits worth billions to different companies by applying irrelevant rules.

Minister for Industries and Production, Khusro Bakhtiar recently acknowledged in a TV talk show that there is strong impression of corruption and nepotism in the organization.

The ministry was also of the view that the EDB had been seriously depleted in recent years due to retirement of some senior officers while it was unable to recruit fresh human resources due to formulation of EDB Act and the Service Rules. Furthermore, as the organization was undergoing transition and at the same time was working on initiatives of national importance, it was imperative that continuity was ensured.

After explaining the case, the MoI&P proposed that the contract of Raza Abbas Shah may be extended for another period of two years with effect from December 19, 2021 on the existing terms and conditions.

However, during discussion, the Minister for Law & Justice, Dr Farogh Naseem pointed out that in absence of any provision of extension in the EDB Act and the service Rules, there would be need to advertise the position.

The Cabinet after hearing the argument of Minister for Law and Justice deferred decision in the instant case with the direction that Secretary, Industries & production shall resubmit the summary after consultation with Minister for Law & Justice.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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