The Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) is embroiled in a difficult situation as its board refuses to take action against the former managing director and is making efforts to hire staff from the private sector, while ignoring its own employees.

The tug of war between the company and its employees led to the latter filing several cases in court against the company to safeguard the interest of the utility.

According to documents, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had written a letter to the board chairperson in December last year to take appropriate action against Amin Rajput. He was heading the company at that time.

Read: ‘SSGC committed to resolving contentions with KE’

Rajput is currently the chief financial officer (CFO) of the company. However, even after the passage of almost three months, the SSGC board had not taken any action.

When contacted, the SSGC spokesperson told The Express Tribune that SSGC had not received any letter in this regard.

This is also to note that earlier, the SSGC board had removed two managing directors; Zuhair Siddiqui and Khalid Rehman, following directions of NAB.

In addition to this, the company is facing another dilemma as the board of directors is looking to hire staff from the private sector while ignoring the employees working for the company.

As a result of mismanagement of the board and the management a number of cases had been filed in the Sindh High Court (SHC) by the officers’ associations and the individuals against whom the management wants to take punitive action at the behest of the board of directors.

SSGC Officers Association to safe guard the interest of officers is in litigation against the company in Sindh High Court. The stay against external hiring on all senior positions has been granted. The court had also granted stay against external hiring on all positions without promotion of internal candidates.

A case has also been admitted to court against illegal hiring of two senior general managers having fabricated degrees and experience. The court has also granted a stay order in the case against false charges and inquiries of association members.

SSGC was once a well-managed utility company, however, following retirement of senior highly experienced officials, the gap between the knowledge base and expertise continued to grow within the organisation.

All the senior staff hired at the level of DGMs, GMs and SGMs have thus far failed to make a positive contribution in solving the company’s many technical problems. The recently appointed managing director is very qualified but he has worked abroad and has not been exposed to working conditions in Pakistan, particularly in a company like SSGC which has been ailing for a while now.

The board has recently started focusing on hiring new staff on a trial-and-error basis. Each deputy managing director has been given the opportunity of acting as MD only to be relegated back to the number two position after a period of one year, which has destroyed the sanctity of the MD’s position.

Also read: Consumer court seeks SSGC reply on faulty gas connection

As things stand, the final accounts of the company for the year 2019/2020 have not been finalised, the equity is in negative and unaccounted for gas (UFG) has reached a level of 17-18%. The staff is also demotivated because annual increments have not been awarded for the last three years and will not be released for another three years.

Meanwhile, the board, instead of choosing individuals from its own pool of employees that have the expertise and technical know-how, has alienated them.

The company recorded total losses of 58 billion cubic feet (bcf) in 2016, which increased to 73bcf in 2019 due to absence of a permanent MD.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2021.

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