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LAHORE: The Punjab government top officials are working out “rationalised” pay packages for its officers and staff working in over 58 companies created by the PML-N Punjab government in the last 10 years without knowing whether the “company mode of public sector development” would continue or not.

They are also planning to rebrand the word pay package as allowance so that no one even the courts could question as to why the government officials working in companies get double salaries, one (lucrative) from the companies and another from their parent departments, official sources informed Dawn on Tuesday.

High salaries of certain government officials in the companies created by the Punjab government have been criticised by public. The Supreme Court too has taken a notice of it, asking such officials to return extra amount to the government.

Plans to use word ‘allowance’ for public and court consumption

Officials say the pay packages are being revised or rationalised under direction from the Supreme Court. Sources said on Tuesday the packages being designed would still be lucrative and plans were afoot to declare them as allowances so that they could “legally” be given in addition to the original salaries of government officials picked for companies.

There was also an attempt to apply the same “pay package or allowance” to those chosen to work in projects or autonomous bodies.

As per stated policy, government officials are allowed to work in companies in Punjab after they emerge successful in a competition for the jobs as human resource from the open market.

But, notwithstanding this stated policy, their induction in the companies and hefty salaries, which are different for different officials, have raised eyebrows even in the bureaucratic circles. There are fixed allowances for those working in projects or autonomous bodies but bureaucrats consider them peanuts against the huge salaries in the companies. An official said officers in BS-20 and above get Rs 80,000 monthly project allowance.

When confronted officials of the departments concerned said that the new allowance was being designed after studying the allowances being given by the federal and other provincial governments. “We plan to give a maximum up to Rs300,000 allowance but those by other governments are higher,” an official said.

To justify, the officials quoted the federal government’s standard pay package for officers and staff directly recruited from open market on a contract basis for the execution of development projects revised in July last year.

According to it, those in BS-22 were getting a monthly Rs500,000, in BS-21 Rs350,000, in BS-20 Rs250,000, in BS-19 Rs175,000, in BS-18 Rs125,000, in BS-17 Rs90,000, in BS-16 Rs60,000, and in BS-14 and 15 Rs40,000 from July 1, 2017. The amounts have a ceiling but everyone gets as five per cent increase in the shape of annual increment.

Sources said the bureaucracy was designing the new pay package in full knowledge of the fact that the present mode of companies would continue only if the PML-N is able to form next government in Punjab. “The future of the companies is linked directly to the next government,” an official remarked.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018