Thursday, May 07, 2015

When PESB interviews but finds no one suitable as directors or CMDs of PSUs; List of instances

HAVE India’s public sector enterprises ceased to get quality people to man their boards? The answer may not be a straight “yes”, but there have been at least five instances in the last six months in which the Public Enterprises Selection Board or the PESB that selects personnel for the posts of CMD and directors in PSUs, found no suitable candidates even after…
interviewing a large number of candidates. Significantly, private sector executives can also apply board level posts in public sector companies for a period of five years, according to a notification dated April 4, 2008. The issue of extending this 5-year-period is under examination of the government, as stated by MoS in the PMO Jitendra Singh in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Also, many a senior bureaucrat leaves her parent cadre to get absorbed in CPSEs.
Let’s now look at the instances where PESB finds no suitable candidates to man the PSU boards. On Tuesday, PESB held interviews to select the post of CMD of Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL). Those interviewed included candidates from Coal India Ltd, MOIL, SAIL etc.  After interviewing as many as eight candidates, the Board came out with a short statement saying that “it did not find any candidate suitable and decided to see more candidates”.
On March 3, PESB interviewed three candidates including an Andhra Pradesh cadre IAS, a sitting Air India director and one from NTPC, but the board did not find anyone suitable for the post of Air India's CMD. “Board did not find any candidate suitable, and recommended that the Government may choose an appropriate course of further action for selection,” it said, virtually allowing the civil aviation ministry to appoint one of its officials on deputation.
In case of Oil India Ltd (OIL), the PESB first interviewed six candidates on November 21, 2014 but it “decided to see more candidates”. Finally, it chose OIL’s director (finance) Mrs Rupshikha Saikia Borah as its CMD.
Again in January, no suitable candidate was found for the post of Director (Finance) in National Projects Construction Corporation Limited (NPCC) after the PESB had interviewed a number of candidates including those from IRCON, ITDC, DMRC etc. The PESB then recommended that the ministry of water resources should explore the possibility of appointing a candidate on deputation basis.
Last month, after interviewing two persons, the PESB found no one as suitable for the post of director (finance) in Scooters India Ltd. The PESB again recommended the department of heavy industries to explore the possibility of appointing someone on deputation basis.
Significantly, there arose an unusual situation in September 2013 when members of Public Sector Enterprises Board found that none of the short-listed candidates turned up for the interview for the post of Director (HR), ITI LTd. The interview was supposed to begin at 10 am in Delhi's CGO complex. The Board then decided to convert itself into a Search-cum-Selection Committee by re-advertising the post with one level below pay scale.


  1. “PESB’s Dilemma “
    Successive governments at the Centre have tried to emasculate the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB ) over the years.It has now reached its nadir. Being an advisory body, more often than not. The Board members are under obligation NOT to assert their authority. Reasons? The Board has been a parking lot for retired officers- ever-ready to please the political masters. Some well-connected chatukaars, after relinquishing the Board, even manage to get further elevations. The lesser mortals get posted as non-official part-time Directors, courtesy PESB exposure. The less fortunately circumstanced visit groves of academia, writing articles, memoirs etc.Second, the candidates called for interviews by PESB, are choosy. They conduct a recce looking for PSUs’ financial health, its location, union problems, work culture etc.If internal candidates are considered powerful, the candidates don’t turn up.Some visit PESB for sight-seeings in Delhi- to and fro air travel expenses ,5-star boarding and lodging, local transports etc—all at company’s cost.
    Another irritant. The candidates,even if empanelled by PESB, are not sure about final selection.
    I am sure, there is excessive “Micro-management” by the babus of Cabinet Sectt and the PMO. In one case, after completion of requisite formalities, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) scrapped the PESB’s panel and directed the ministry to re-frame the Job Descriptions of the post.
    The Prime Minister is blissfully unaware of such goings-on.

    (The author was a former Secretary, PESB)

    A K SAXENA (A retd civil servant)

  2. Is this a percusor to inducting CEO's from the Pvt sector?