ISLAMABAD: The latest organisational restructuring of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has become mired in controversy, as the management issued a circular 10 days ago with signature of President Ahmad Iqbal Ashraf, though he was not present in the country and was in the United Kingdom.

Independent legal experts have termed it a procedural breach, which is also against the code of corporate governance and best international corporate practices.

On April 13, NBP issued an office circular, announcing reorganisation of regions of the bank. It was the second reorganisation in about one year, in which NBP reversed some of the steps taken in the first restructuring that was implemented on March 10 of last year.

The office circular was issued with the signature of President Ahmad Iqbal Ashraf while he was on a private trip to the UK, according to the NBP documents. An April 8 notification of NBP shows that Ashraf was on “private/personal leave” from April 11 to April 15.

The same notification states that in the absence of the president, Mudassir H Khan, Senior Executive Vice President of Commercial Retail Banking Group, will undertake the routine work.

This has highlighted the issue of bad governance, particularly in the case of organisational restructuring, that independent legal experts said cannot be handled in this manner.

They said that it was a rectifiable procedural breach but it can become a serious legal issue if an aggrieved employee decides to challenge it in the court of law.

However, NBP spokesperson Syed Ibne Hassan insists there was nothing wrong in it. “The circular was signed by the president on the last working day, April 8, 2016, however, it was released on April 13.”

In the last one year, NBP has twice undertaken a major restructuring drive, which showed that the first exercise was undertaken without doing proper work, said sources.

In the March 10 reorganisation, NBP divided its work into 20 regions while merging many small regions. However, it increased the number to 23 on April 13 while succumbing to the pressure exerted by politicians and influential officers of the bank, said the sources.

They said that due to the merger of some regions, some of the employees relocated to other regions. These employees refused to leave their stations and forced the NBP management to establish three more regions for their sake.

For instance, Larkana and Jhelum regions have been added in the fresh reorganisation, which were abolished on March 10, showed the documents.

While defending the second revision, the NBP spokesperson said the Board of Directors in 2014 had approved revised business and field structure and reorganisation of regions. He said in the first phase, the domestic business structure was reviewed and in the second phase, the functional and administrative roles of key functionaries were refined.

Hassan said NBP was divided into 23 regions to achieve better efficiency in servicing the clients and have a much-focused approach.

The mishandling of the reorganisation is not the only case, as questions have also been raised over contractual hiring, promotions and misuse of resources of the government-owned bank.

The official documents of NBP showed that the Institutional Disciplinary Wing of the bank has marked an inquiry against regional head of Islamabad, Farooq Hasan, on misuse of official car and guesthouse.

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