ISLAMABAD - As the privatisation of Oil and Gas Company limited (OGDCL) is on the cards, the government has appointed six new board members amid hopes that new team will bring increase in dividend levels.

The new members included Omer Ahmad Zai, Zafar Masood, Dr. Shafique Ali Shah Jamot, Muhmmad Ali Tabba, Rehmat Salam Khatak and Hamid Farooq. Along with the new appointments four members, including Raza Ullah Khan, Fahad Sheikh and Sheraz Hashmi have been removed from the board.

It was learnt that board members were appointed for a period of three years and most of them sacked had more than one year service remaining.

The newly appointed members are from diversified backgrounds. M. Ali Tabba, is chairman Lucky group, and is vice president ICI.

Dr Shafqat Ali Shah Jamot is a former Minister Agriculture. He is a PhD and owns business including Mitiari Sugar Mill. Third member Hamid Farooq is former CEO Warid and presently Vice President PTCL.

Zafar Masood is a Chartered Accountant. He was in board of directors of State Bank. Omer Ahmed Zai hails from Khan of Kalaat family and is a businessman. Seventh board member is Rehmat Khattak from KPK. He is an educationalist and has been closely associated with a political party.

It was learnt that these new members were appointed directly from Prime Minister Secretariat and Ministry of Petroleum acted as a post office in the new appointments. Government has already appointed Zahid Muzaffar as Chairman Board of Directors (BoD) of OGDCL. Zahid Muzaffar was appointed on the direct orders of Prime Minister on May 09, this year. This was a much-awaited decision as Nawaz government after coming in power announced restructuring of major organisations and recently hinted of selling OGDCL shares.

It was learnt that restructuring news resulted in creating discomfort in top management and former Chairman Shafi Arshad resigned due to this. After the resignation of Chairman, there was a list of contestants for the top post. In this row Lieutenant General (Retd)Abdul Qayyum, former Secretary Petroleum G.A Sabri were also included.

But government finally appointed Zahid Muzaffar as Chairman Board of Directors (BoD) of OGDCL this month. In absence of board members he was chairman designate. After the notification of new board members on Thursday, Muzaffar is a chairman OGDCL now. It was learnt that these new appointments were aimed to enhance profile of the company, which can later bring high rates in bidding.

Recently OGDCL announced financial results for the nine months ending March 31, 2014. The company placed third interim cash dividend for Rs 2.25 per share (22.50pc). It was learnt that new appointed directors would soon hold a meeting. They will have one point agenda and that is how to increase dividend levels of the company.

Although government terms it a routine re-structuring but some critics raise serious questions about the qualifications and skills of new board members to run one of the giant state owned organisation. They alleged that the members were handpicked due to their political affiliations. OGDCL spokesperson defends this government decision. Ahmed Hayat Luk told The Nation that government has authority to appoint staff or member whom it deem fit. Answering a question he said it was a routine re-structuring and hoped that new management will deliver what it has been expected.