SECP’s chairman appointment experiencing musical chairs

Law Ministry claimed that it fulfilled the requirement of Section 6A of SECP Act 1997 by appointing an acting chairman at SECP

ISLAMABAD: Appointment of a permanent Chairman for Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan is facing hurdles, as Ministry of Law still considers Zafar Hijazi as head of the corporate regulator.

Due to this hitch, the appointment of a new SECP chairman will be delayed by five months, reported a leading English daily.

In late July, Zafar Hijazi was taken into custody by FIA following rejection of his bail plea in record tampering case. He was arrested from outside the court room.

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According to Section 6A of SECP Act 1997, if the position is lying vacant due to chairman unable to vest his duties, the federal government is required to appoint the senior most officer as acting chairman until it selects a permanent candidate for the post.

Furthermore, Section 6A states government should ensure selection of a chairman within 120 days from the date the post fell vacant and that limit is set to expire coming Friday.

Finance Ministry said the 120-day limit is only applicable when the post of chairman is unoccupied, and it has sought Ministry of Law and Justice’s help in this issue.

Law Ministry claimed that it fulfilled the requirement of Section 6A of SECP Act 1997 by appointing an acting chairman at SECP and suspension of Zafar Hijazi didn’t make the position automatically abandoned and hence post of chairman wasn’t vacant.

If the law ministry’s opinion is to be followed, the 120-day limit is set to start from December 16, 2017. This permits the government to run SECP on an ad-hoc basis till April 6th, 2018.

Govt had appointed two other commissioners Akif Saeed and Fida Hussain Sumro alongside Hijazi in December 2014 and their terms are set to expire on December 16th, 2017.

But government could land itself in trouble, as terms of three commissioners are set to expire and condition for running SECP requires mandatory presence of three officers. Currently, SECP has five commissioners which include Hijazi as well.

Finance ministry said Saeed’s term could be extended, whereas the other two commissioners may not qualify for extension due to age limit. Recently, federal cabinet expanded SECP commissioners from five to seven and ministry short-listed six candidates for two additional slots slated to become vacant on 16th December 2017.

Their interviews have been delayed due to prolonged absence of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is abroad seeking treatment for health issues.

The short-listed candidates are Iftikhar Ahmed, Razi Khan, Shahid Naseem, Naveed Qazi, Hafiz Mohammad Yousaf and Amir Ali Khan.

Yousaf is said to be the preferred choice for the post, as he is said to be a close aide of Dar and Hijazi.

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