The government has re-appointed Aamir Khan as Commissioner and Chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) immediately after completion of his first term, however, positions for two other commissioners have been vacant for the past seven months.

According to the law, there must be a total of five commissioners of SECP but the apex regulator has continued to function with only three since April 2021.

The number of commissioners is set to fall further to two on December 11 when Commissioner Farrukh Sabzwari’s three-year term will come to an end, The Express Tribune has learnt.

“The federal government is pleased to re-appoint Aamir Ali Khan as Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Commissioner for a further term of three years with effect from December 6, 2021,” read a notification issued by the Finance Division (Investment Wing) on Tuesday.

“On his re-appointment as Commissioner, the federal government is pleased to appoint him Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Chairman.”

It took the government only one day to re-appoint Khan but seats for two commissioners have been empty for the past seven months. “I smell something fishy,” a stockbroker said.

The country’s reputation has been impacted due to the unsuccessful launch of a new trading system at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) under SECP Chairman Aamir Khan. The fiasco caused losses of billions of rupees to investors, however, “no action and no investigation is practically underway.”

“Had there been a full-time commissioner for the Securities Market Division (SMD), the launch of new system would not have failed.”

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The post for the Securities Market Division commissioner has been vacant since Shauzab Ali’s three-year term ended in mid-April 2021. Similarly, the seat of insurance commissioner has been empty since late March when Shaukat Hussain’s three-year term expired.

Commissioners can be re-hired by the government for two terms of three-year each. Ali and Hussain, however, were not re-hired for the second term.

“Khan, who has dual nationality, is facing cases in the Lahore High Court,” he said.

However, the SECP was of the view that the commission’s performance was remarkable under the leadership of Khan as it managed to improve the functioning of stock market, insurance companies and corporate sector, and implemented anti-money laundering (AML) rules.

An official of the SECP said that the hiring process for two vacant positions of commissioners was underway. A committee, which was given the task to appoint commissioners on vacant positions, has “shortlisted eight names”.

“The law does not define the time period to appoint a commissioner on vacant position,” the official said. “History tells that the SECP has mostly worked with low number of commissioners.”

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin heads the committee. The Ministry of Finance is expected to further shorten the list of potential candidates to two from four and recommend the names to the federal cabinet for final approval, he said.

He said that powers rest with the federal cabinet to decide whether Sabzwari would be re-appointed for the second term or not.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2021.

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