ISLAMABAD, March 12: While the federal government is busy in regularising contractual employees, a move many believe is a perfect ‘job for vote’ strategy of the outgoing PPP government, officials at the establishment division, which notifies these permanent appointments, are also using the ploy to line their pockets.
If a top government official close to the development is to be believed, it is just a matter of March 16 when with the departure of the PPP government many such appointments made in violation of the government’s own regularisation policy would be made public.
The official said on many occasions, minutes of the sub-committee of the cabinet were deliberately altered to benefit officials who didn’t fulfil the criterion but made permanent.
A similar attempt made last week was foiled by the top management of the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra) when it resisted appointments in the authority.
As per documentary evidence available with Dawn, a meeting of the cabinet sub-committee on regularisation of contractual employees in the federal government headed by senior minister Khursheed Shah was held on January 29.
It took up the case of contractual employees working in Erra. The meeting participated by the Chairman Erra, Hamid Yar Hiraj, and other senior staff of the authority agreed to confirm services of 143 low-paid staff.
The committee also allowed additional 60 positions which fell under the category to be regularised under BPS-16 in Erra.
As per the government policy, no contractual employee could benefit from this policy who draws salary from the development but not recurring budget because of their time-bound contracts.
Similarly, employees not working against sanctioned posts in the federal government are also excluded from the scheme, including those who have been rehired after their retirement.
And, positions in BPS 16 and above will be filled through the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), and the committee has no right to grant confirmation on such positions.
However, to the shock of their lives, the Erra authorities received minutes of the January 29 meeting on March 4 in which the establishment division had recommended confirmation of 11 officers of the authority in BPS-16, three each in BPS-17 and 18, one in BPS-19 and two in BPS-20.
Stunned by the recommendations, Erra officials held an emergency meeting and wrote a detailed letter on March 6 to minister Khursheed Shah, explaining how minutes of the meeting were completely different.
In the letter available with Dawn, Erra said in the minutes of the committee forwarded to the authority the establishment division had mentioned about Basic Pay Scale employees, notwithstanding the fact that Erra’s employees were not identified with grade/BPS.
Indeed, salaries being offered to Erra’s contractual employees are market oriented and these are invariably higher than government pay scales.
Therefore, these have no linkages with government pay scales, hence determination of BSP on the basis of salary is not only erroneous but out of context as well.
The Erra authorities further made it clear that in the minutes they had been directed to create and fill posts essentially falling within the purview of FPSC, which indeed amounted to the violation of law in vogue.
It said a large number of development/PSDP project employees, around 1,000 in number, were serving in Erra’s agencies and district reconstruction units in nine districts of KP and AJK, who would also have a legitimate right to be considered for permanency of their services on the analogy as directed in the minutes.
It also submitted that directive in the minutes did not take cognizance of additional financial burden which would reach to the tune of over Rs1.5 billion, including terminal benefits and additional over Rs1 billion of the employees of agencies of Erra. The Erra’s present development and non-development budgets do not cater to such a huge expenditure.
“The issuance of minutes contrary to the decisions of the sub-committee is a very serious issue and would warrant an inquiry to ascertain factual position. Apparently, the conduct of the officials involved was in violation of the conduct rules for which proceedings may be initiated,” said the letter.
Upon receiving the letter, chairman of the sub-committee Khursheed Shah also got surprised and agreed to the facts explained by the Erra officials.
As a result, he recalled the minutes of the meeting and ordered to issue fresh minutes in line with the decisions which were actually taken by the committee on its January 19 meeting.
Secretary establishment division Taimoor Azamt was not available for comments.