Govt relaxes job eligibility criteria to accommodate one of its blue-eyed candidates

ISLAMABAD-The federal government has given three years relaxation in maximum age limit and five years in experience to the prospective energy sector specialist in petroleum sector, apparently to accommodate one of its blue eyed candidates.

A letter written to Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, available with The Nation, said that Transparency International Pakistan has received a complaint on the allegation of violation of Supreme Court of Pakistan orders (2018) and Cabinet Secretariat (Establishment Division) Management Position Scales, 2020/2021 in advertisement for energy sector specialist by the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division), advertisement dated 12th February, 2023.

It has been alleged that on 5th February 2023, the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) gave advertisement for hiring of Energy Sector Specialist, with the following requirements: i) minimum 35 years of professional experience, Masters in Engineering, total quality management as an added advantage age limit 65 years. However, on 12 February 2023, the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) issued a corrigendum with the revised requirements: 1) experience reduced from 35 to 30 years, qualification reduced from Masters in Engineering to Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, while age limit has been enhanced from 65 to 68 years.

The maximum age limit for appointment in GoP of 65 or even 68 years are illegal, and in violation of the Cabinet Secretariat (Establishment Division) Management Positions Scales Notification 2020/2021, which explicitly declares a government appointee cannot serve over age of 65 years. It has been further alleged, the selection criterion in the advertisement is tailor made for a particular person to suite his/her qualifications/experience/age and based on nepotism, and partiality and is drafted to that pre-selected candidate who has Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, 68 years age bracket and 30 years of experience. 

The advertised position of Energy Sector Specialist is for a contractual period of one year which means the person hired with 68 years of age will be 69 years during one year of appointment, which is against maximum age of 65 years. Transparency International Pakistan has reviewed the allegations of the complainant and prima facie allegations seem correct. The Supreme Court of Pakistan in human rights case of 2018 declared the appointment (above 65 years of age) and monetary benefits bestowed upon the former chairperson and managing director of Pakistan Television (PTV) as illegal and ordered to make recovery.

The Cabinet Secretariat (Establishment Division) Management Position Scales, 2020/2021 determines that maximum age for appointment for posts in autonomous/semi-autonomous bodies, corporations, public sector companies, etc owned and managed by the federal government for a period of (03) years cannot be above 62 years. The advertised position of Energy Sector Specialist is for a contract period of one year, and the maximum required age cannot be above 64 years. However, Ministry of Energy has advertised maximum age of 68 years, the TIP letter said. 

The advertisement also does not clarify the scale of the Energy Sector Specialist, i.e, MP-I, MP-II, MP-IIL which is the requirement of the Management Position Scales Policy 2020/2021 for Contractual Appointments issued by Cabinet Secretariat (Establishment Division) dated 12 January 2021. The monthly remuneration advertised is Rs500000 whereas the scale is not identified. 

The basic requirement of only one degree Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering with 30 years of experience may be upgraded as per the requirement of different scales such as MP-I which is Ph.D in relevant subject(s) with 14 years professional experience or masters in relevant subject with 18 years post qualification experience in the relevant field.

Transparency International Pakistan requested the Prime Minister to examine the allegations, and if found correct, order Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) to follow the Supreme Court of Pakistan orders and the Cabinet Secretariat (Establishment Division) latest office memorandum Management Position Scales Policy, 2020/2021. Transparency International Pakistan is striving for across the board application of rule of law, which is the only way to stop corruption, and achieve zero tolerance against corruption. The copies of the letter have also been sent to Supreme Court of Pakistan, Chairman NAB, Secretary Petroleum Division. The advertisement was issued by Directorate General of Petroleum Concession, Petroleum Division. Directorate General of Petroleum Concessions is one of the Directorates of the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) functioning as the regulatory authority for all upstream exploration & production activities in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, a source in Petroleum Division said that there is absolutely no role for a mechanical engineer in DGPC. The candidate for the Energy Sector Specialist should be geologist or geophysicist, the source added. Interestingly, chemical engineer has been placed in DGPC instead of geologist or geophysicist, while geologists have been placed as Director General Liquefied Gases (DGLG) and DG gas. Similarly, another PhD in geology is presently posted as DG administration division. When the scribe contacted Director General Petroleum Concession, Dr Kashif, he said that the Energy Specialist will not work in DGPC, rather he will be sitting in a special cell of the Petroleum Division and will oversee all the matters related to petroleum sector.