ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the National Accountability Bureau to probe all appointments of executives and others in the top hierarchy of government subsidiary companies who were drawing Rs1.5 million and above in salaries.

The top court also directed the NAB to conduct an inquiry into the appointment of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Managing Director (MD) Imranul Haq who was drawing Rs3.7 million per month along with other perks and privileges. The top court directed the NAB to conduct the probe within six weeks.

The top court further directed a firm namely M/s KPMG to conduct an audit of PSO’s last three years within five week's time.

These directions were issued by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan after hearing the matter of alleged exorbitant and unreasonable taxing, cess duty and a fee on oil, gas and electricity.

Regarding the hefty salary of the PSO MD, the bench in its order observed that it was not sure whether the appointment was made in a transparent manner and not on the basis of personal relations or nepotism.

During the hearing, the bench also came to know about certain senior executives drawing high packages.

According to the terms of reference (ToRs), KPMG in its audit will review the pricing structure for motor oil, high-speed diesel and furnace oil sold by the PSO.

The audit firm will also identify the cost components, including the related basis and assumptions used for each cost component and the appropriateness thereof.

According to Additional Attorney General (AAG) Syed Nayyar Rizvi, the firm will also review the underlying process for import of motor oil, high-speed diesel and furnace oil by the PSO including the related procedures at public stakeholders’ offices, including the petroleum division, OGRA, State Bank of Pakistan.

The ToRs also include that KPMG shall carry out such other procedures including a three-year review/audit of motor oil, high-speed diesel and furnace oil procured by the PSO to conclude whether or not, the price charged by the PSO was a fair price.

The ToRs also include the identification of controllable and uncontrollable factors as well as firm’s comment on the transparency of the process.

The auditors may carry out a research of regional pricing structure and an analysis of international oil prices, if and when required, and review broadly processes followed by other OMCs for purchasing such fuels.

The petroleum division will ensure all assistance was provided to the auditors by the PSO and all stakeholders.

The ToRs were finalized with the consultation of Attorney General for Pakistan (AG) Khalid Jawed, AAG Syed Nayyar Rizvi and representative of the mentioned firm during the break of hearing.

The chief justice ruled that all if required the AG and Auditor General for Pakistan shall provide the support to KPMG. The firm quoted an amount of Rs4.3 million for audit, however, the quotation shall be determined keeping in view the work.

The firm has also been granted access to all necessary documents and record while the AG has been appointed as a focal person to interact with KPMG and to ensure the cooperation of all the statutory bodies with the firm.

During the hearing, AGP Jawed informed the bench that he received letters of people that they were not getting the quality product they were paying for.

He further stated that though he was not sure about the authenticity of the claims, some of the letters claimed that Iranian oil was far better in quality than the oil in Pakistan. He said that refineries should also be issued notices.

He also informed the bench that the issue of quality raised on the complaint of Honda Company. To this, the chief justice remarked that some complaints were also being received regarding the quality of the jet fuel.

PSO MD Haq contended that they had standardized oil which was finalized by the petroleum division.

The AG submitted that the quality of petroleum products was linked to inspections on pumps, depots and importers adding that the idea of quality-checking was not to blame anyone.

The chief justice remarked that the matter had to be looked into for future corrections. When the chief justice asked the MD PSO about the total budget, he responded that the administrative budget was Rs10 to Rs12 billion annually and the last year’s net profit was Rs18.2 billion while the total revenue was about Rs1.2 trillion.

The chief justice expressed dissatisfaction and remarked that the bench will require a comprehensive report.

“I am sure something is not coming to the fore. You (MD) are drawing Rs3.7 million. You are a friend of someone who was part of the previous government,” said chief justice.

“I am not a friend of anyone,” responded MD Haq. The response of the PSO MD angered the chief justice who remarked, “Don’t try to say something which could easily be ascertained, even a president of a bank would not be getting such a hefty amount in terms of salary”. 

MD Haq said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had appointed him. The chief justice asked who was the minister of the ministry concerned at that time. MD Haq admitted that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was the minister of petroleum at that time.  “So stop here, we can probe with the assistance of best agencies,” the chief justice snubbed the PSO MD.

Haq contended that the post was advertised and the candidates were not only short-listed but a third company also examined the merit adding that he was getting less salary from PSO as compared to what was he getting from his previous company.

The chief justice observed that it was the real scam that private limited companies were opened in the name of ensuring transparency through a third party while the settlements used to be done behind the scenes.

“If someone thinks that the old friendship will not be unearthed then one must be mindful of the fact that we (court) have the record with us through which it could be ascertained,” the chief justice grilled the PSO MD.

MD Haq was left with no answer except to state that other companies like Shell, OGDCL, APL and PPL were also paying a handsome amount in salaries to the employees.

The chief justice said that people were depositing money for dams. He appreciated the kids, whose video went viral wherein they were depositing Rs100 each in a bank for dams, and observed that “these are the actual nationals of the country”.

The hearing was adjourned.