EDB staff allege lobby in auto sector protecting their corrupt CEO

Pakistan Today

ISLAMABAD: While the Engineering Development Board (EDB), the apex government body under the Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) entrusted to strengthen the engineering base in Pakistan, has been in hot water for corruption cases, the affairs of the board have badly been affected by a tug of war between its acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mirza Nasir Baig and other officials/staff. The infighting between staff and acting CEO has started showing an ugly picture of the organisation, which was decided to be dissolved by the cabinet of the previous government.
Around 50 officials/staff of the board, who gathered at the MoI&P and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Islamabad on Wednesday, held meetings with officials of the ministries where they protested against the CEO for his allegedly unethical behaviour. During a hearing at the Ministry of, Commerce the delegation of EDB employees complained that the head of the board, has created an environment in the organisation in which senior officials and other staff have been unable to work.
“Since we have demanded the head to initiate an investigation against those involved in corruption, the CEO has started punishing all those who raised voice against illegal practices in the organisation. He wants to continue making money as long as he enjoys the post,” the delegation informed the ministry’s officials.
They demanded the immediate removal of the CEO saying that an employee of the organisation was critically admitted to a hospital a few days ago for mentally being stressed at the organisation. “The whole EDB is not corrupt, however, individuals could be involved in the illegal practices. They claimed that the key section of the EDB which is involved in malpractices is tariff section, which is being headed by the present incumbent CEO for years,” the EDB officials informed the ministry. Earlier the delegation had also held meetings with officials at MoI&P.
Talking to Pakistan Today, EDB officials informed that they want EDB to be a corruption free organisation but a certain group within the organisation supported and supervised by the CEO is against any such move. In reply to a query, they said, the powerful lobby in the auto sector was actually protecting the CEO. “We, a majority of the EDB staff are here to protest against the CEO. In case the ministries concerned avoid taking action against the CEO, we will go to court,” they added.
An official of the EDB, who was not part of the protesting group, however, said since the government has decided to dissolve the organisation, everyone in the board was uncertain and in mental stress. “Some senior officials of the EDB are unhappy with the CEO and they are heading the move against Mirza Nasir Baig,” he said adding that the actual concern of the employees was the dissolution of the organisation.
The cabinet of the last government had decided to dissolve EDB citing the reasons the Board was not performing any useful function, either in terms of regulation or promotion of engineering enterprises, adding that malpractices had become endemic in the Board, exploitation of business by its staff had become a norm. The cabinet had also observed that the Board has become a major impediment to improving the ease of doing business and creating an enabling environment for industrial expansion and economic development.
However, according to sources, the auto sector, which has also challenged the cabinet’s decision in the court and obtained a stay order, was actually trying to protect EDB. Recently, the automotive parts manufactures had approached Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the dissolution of EDB.
In a petition (Petition 1966 of 2018) filed by Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts and Manufacturers (PAAPAM), the court has been appealed to stop the implementation on the dissolution of EDB. Subsequently, the court has issued notices to the government through the secretary cabinet division and three others. A similar petition was also filed in the court by employees of EDB seeking reversal of the cabinet decision.
Earlier, the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA) through a letter had requested the government to review the decision of dissolving the body or announce a successor to take over the existing day to day affairs.
In the letter written to the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PAMA stated that the cabinet’s decision to dissolve the EDB will create a vacuum as there is no mention of any successor organisation or mechanism to look after the ongoing affairs.
“It has been the EDB, an arm of the Ministry of Industries, that provided support to the auto industry’s operations and also controlled and regulated the growth of the auto industry since the early nineties,” the letter said.

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