ISLAMABAD: The government has increased the number of commissioners in the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) from five to seven even though there are not enough departments for the new appointees to head.
The appointments have been made by the federal cabinet after approving the summary forwarded by the Ministry of Finance. Currently there are four operational divisions in the SECP including Company Law, Securities Market, Insurance Division and Specialised Companies.
Each commissioner heads the relevant department while the chairman of the SECP serves as an administrative head of the organisation. The strength of five commissioners is deemed adequate, given that there are no departments for additional commissioners to head.
The salary of a commissioner is about Rs2.5 million, besides additional perks and benefits including secretaries, drivers, guards and vehicles.
A commissioner at the SECP is a statutory position and one cannot be removed once appointed.
It is interesting to note that three existing commissioners are set to retire in less than four months. One of the commissioners, chairman SECP Zafar Hijazi, is currently under suspension.
Mr Hijazi is facing a case in FIA over alleged record-tampering issue.
The other two commissioners are Akif Saeed, Commissioner Securities Market Division, and Fida Hussain Samoo, Commissioner Insurance. The three-year term of both these commissioners would end in December 2017.
However, the tenure of the senior most Commissioner SECP, Mr Tahir Mahmood, will end in November 2019 and that of the incumbent chairman, Mr Zafar Abdullah, is set for late 2018.
Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance has taken notice of the move.
Committee Chairman Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said the increase in the number of commissioners seems to be a politically motivated move. The appointment of new commissioners at this point of time would allow the PML-N to have its trusted men in the SECP even after the current tenure ends, he alleged. “The incumbent government has moved to increase its influence in the SECP by inducting its chosen persons as commissioners, and restrict the decision making process in the apex regulator as per their benefit,” he added.
He said that after record tampering has been proven in the SECP and there is no reason to increase the number of commissioners.