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Senior Ogra officers receiving interest free car loans

Senior Ogra officers receiving interest free car loans

ISLAMABAD: Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has been offering car loans to its senior management at zero per cent interest since June last year and some benefited in addition to acquiring cars under the monetisation policy.

According to the documents available with Dawn, in June 2014, the Ogra authorities introduced zero per cent car loan policy for its ‘executive’ officers and a majority of them benefited from this policy.

The officers who obtained loans at zero per cent interest included senior executive directors, executive directors, executive secretaries, staff officers, joint executive directors and others.

A senior Ogra official claimed that out of these officers at least six had obtained cars under the monetisation policy after paying nominal amount but were given loans worth over Rs2 million each as well.

Six officers including Noorul Haq who had recently been appointed Ogra member finance, executive directors Shahid Numan Afzal, Rizwanul Haq, Misbah Yaqub, Sohail Tariq and Sarmad Aslam purchased official cars under monetisation policy and then applied for zero per cent car loans as well.

The former government of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 2011 introduced the monetisation policy which allowed civil servants between grades 20 and 22 to purchase the official cars which had been under their use. A deduction of 15 per cent from the cost would be made for each year the car had been in use.

The Ogra official claimed that under the monetisation policy, senior officers of the authority had purchased luxury cars after paying a nominal amount.

Ogra’s car loan policy was introduced in June last year for “executives of Scale E-1 and above of Ogra”.

The policy justified payment of interest free loan to the Ogra officials on the basis that since there was improper public transport system in different regions and traveling to and from offices on taxi is “unbearable” therefore the officials may avail interest free loan to buy their own cars.

It said: “As it is evident that all regions apart from Islamabad cover a substantial geographical area and getting around can be extremely difficult in some areas because of distances and the lack of public transport…the employees who travel to these regions in the course of official work as well as personal work will need the use of a car.”

It further said: “The subject policy is aimed at providing interest free car loan facility to all regular employees of scale E-1 and above for the purchase of personal car.”

However as per the documents, during the official correspondence of Ogra, it was pointed out by a senior official that “the car advance being given to officers/officials of Ogra on zero per cent interest is violation of rules/regulations and policies of the federal government, the practice causes a loss to the national exchequer and should be stopped immediately.”

A complaint filed with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) alleged that the incumbent chairman Ogra “Saeed Ahmed Khan has given more than Rs20 million as car advance, illegally, unlawfully, against the rules/regulations and government policy, discriminatory at zero per cent interest rate.”

The said complaint pointed out that “according to the rules/regulation, law and policy if an employee gets interest on the Government (GP) Provident Fund or Contributory Provident (CP) Fund then he has to pay interest on car advance.”

The complaint added: “He (Ogra chairman Khan) has given heavy car advance at zero per cent interest to the employees who are getting interest more than 10 per cent on their CP fund.”

Sources in Ogra told Dawn that though the complaint mentioned that Rs20 million had been distributed as car loans, the actual amount has exceeded Rs50 million.

Ogra spokesperson Afzal Bajwa told Dawn that the car loan policy was made for all eligible officers of the authority. He said that the authority, under the law, may take decisions as it is independent by virtue of the statute.

However, he said that if an official opines against the policy, it would be an individual opinion and it has no overriding effect on the decision made by the authority.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2015

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