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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) Ordinance permitting only civil servants to be appointed CDA chairman, vice chairman and financial adviser.

The new amendment prevents grade 20 CDA officers from becoming the chairman of the authority, even if they have more experience and higher qualifications.

Sources said four amendments that were proposed by the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) have been approved, and CADD State Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry confirmed that the amendments were approved by cabinet without any changes.

He said the amendments would now be approved by parliament in the form of a bill or through a presidential order.

“Both options are available to us,” he said. When asked why the law was being amended through an ordinance when the National Assembly session has already been summoned, the minister said: “The bill was required to be passed immediately, as the working of the CDA is being affected.”

According to CDA officers, they did not fall under the category of civil servants.

The federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, took up the amendments to the CDA Ordinance 1960 moved by the CADD minister.

CADD placed the summary before the cabinet following Islamabad High Court orders barring the government from appointing any civil servant to the post of CDA chairman, to make changes to the ordinance and pave the way for appointments of civil servants as CDA chairman.

The cabinet approved amendments to section 6(2), which states: “The [Federal Government] shall appoint a Chairman, a Vice Chairman and a Financial Advisor from amongst the members.”

The amendment states: “The Federal Government shall appoint Chairman, a Vice Chairman and Financial Advisor from amongst the civil servants of the federal government in BS-20 and above.”

Other amendments include one to section 6(3), stating that the chairman and members of the authority shall hold their offices for three years, unless removed earlier for reasons to be recorded in writing. The ordinance currently fixes the term for members at four years and for the chairman at five years.

An amendment to section 8(f) was also approved, which deals with the disqualification of members. An amendment to section 6(6) of the ordinance was also approved.

Sources said that on Wednesday, when Dr Chaudhry sought the input of CDA members, Shahid Sohail – one of the senior most members of the authority – and Member Planning Asad Mehboob Kayani, as well as another member who belongs to another service group, called the proposed amendment barring CDA members from being promoted to chairman an injustice.

Sources said both members said they were going to retire this year and were not interested in becoming chairman, but the amendment would deprive other CDA officers in the future of becoming chairman of the authority.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2018