PESHAWAR: Four key departments and the chief minister’s secretariat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been functioning without administrative heads for several months with their administrative affairs being adversely affected.

According to the officials, the elementary and secondary education, energy and power, establishment, anti-corruption establishment departments don’t have permanent secretaries and the chief minister’s secretariat the principal staff officer.

Currently, these departments are overseen by the administrative secretaries of other departments, who have been given the additional charge of their secretary offices. The ad hocism is not only affecting the working of all departments concerned, the officials told Dawn.

The officials said the education department had been functioning without a permanent secretary since last November when the incumbent, Shehzad Bangash, was transferred and posted as the additional chief secretary of the planning and development department.

In absence of permanent heads, they’re overseen by other secretaries

They said after the transfer of Mr Bangash, the then commissioner of Peshawar division, Fakhar Alam, was given the additional charge of the education department.

The commissioner of Peshawar is the administrative head of the entire Peshawar division having three districts including Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera.

“It is difficult to handle the affairs of three districts and the education department at the same time,” an official insisted.

The official said the education department was the largest among the government departments as it had around 50 per cent of the total government employees in the province and billions of development funds at its disposal.

He said a month ago, the commissioner of Peshawar went to attend the Senior Management Course training, health secretary Abid Majeed was given the education secretary’s additional charge.

The official said the health department itself was a huge and important department and so how it was possible for its secretary to manage the affairs of another key department.

“Health secretary Abid Majeed comes to the education department for one hour in the morning and two to three hours in the second time,” he said.

The official said besides the secretary, the positions of an additional secretary and three deputy secretaries were also lying vacant in the education department.

Another official said finance secretary Shakeel Qadir had been given additional charge of the energy and planning department, while administration secretary Arshad Majeed had got the additional charge of the establishment department.

Similarly, the charge of the principal staff officer to chief minister has been given to Peshawar commissioner Shahab Ali Shah, while deputy secretary Usman Zaman has got the additional charge of the anti-corruption establishment department.

Asked about the reasons for giving two important departments to one secretary, a senior official in the establishment department said the province was short of senior officers in BPS-20 and above.

“The provincial government requested the federal government time and again to send senior officers to KP, but in vain,” he said.

The official said instead of sending more senior officers to KP, the federal government had called back several of its senior officers from KP.

When contacted, information minister Shah Farman said the additional charge of several departments had been given to secretaries of other departments due to the recent reshuffle of officers.

He added that several senior officers had gone to attend professional training courses.

Asked why the education department has not been given a permanent secretary for a long time, the minister said he would discuss the issue with Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.

Elementary and secondary education minister Mohammad Atif Khan claimed that a lot of education reforms had been introduced in the last five years.

“The education department can’t be handed over to anyone at this stage,” he said.

The minister said chief secretary Mohammad Azam Khan had asked him that the federal government would soon send one of its senior officers to the province to assume the office of the education secretary.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2018

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