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LAHORE: Taking a policy decision, the caretaker Punjab government on Friday discontinued market-based salaries of the government employees serving in public sector companies and all other government organisations in the province with effect from July 1.

This new policy will, however, not apply to contract employees from the private sector of public sector companies and other entities functioning in Punjab.

The 56 public sector companies, like Saaf Pani Company, had come under the scanner of the Supreme Court after Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of lucrative salaries (running into millions) being paid to the civil servants.

During a hearing in April this year, Justice Nisar had directed all the public servants working as heads of public sector companies to return the money over and above their regular salaries to the government within one month. However, there is no compliance of this direction so far.

Officers to get regular pay with deputation allowance; policy not applied to contract employees

These companies’ affairs are also being probed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as the courts found out that the companies have been set up illegally.

In order to counter this uncalled-for situation, the last cabinet meeting of the PML-N government, led by Shahbaz Sharif, had accorded ex post facto approval to give a legal cover to the said public sector companies.

In a notification now, the Punjab government has directed that all types of programmes, project allowances, pay packages, market-based salaries or any other special dispensation as a part of regular pay stand discontinued from the beginning of the current financial year. All the previous notifications and orders towards paying market-based salaries to the government employees have been cancelled.

The officers serving in public sector companies or projects, boards, autonomous bodies, commissions, funds, authorities, special institutions, foundations etc will now be paid their regular salaries along with deputation allowance, not more than Rs12,000 a month.

The notification also says that the officers and officials concerned will be considered for grant of reward/ honoraria under the provincial government’s existing policy on the subject.

In order to decide about paying reward or honoraria, the administrative secretary concerned of the entities will review performance of the said entities against their

stated objectives and advise the government about the future pay structure of public servants working in such entities so that a unified and well-thought framework can be developed in view of the business model of the entity.

The Punjab government has asked all administrative secretaries concerned to ensure implementation of the latest instructions in letter and spirit. The secretaries have also been asked to submit certificate regarding implementation of the new policy.

When contacted, a cabinet minister said the caretaker government had taken this decision on the call of the Supreme Court. The next cabinet will also be free to take any decision in this case, he opined.

It may also be mentioned that the Punjab caretaker cabinet had also recently, in principle, accorded approval of closure of ‘non-active’ and ‘non-functional’ public sector companies in the province – through a legal mechanism.

The cabinet had decided that a final opinion would be solicited from the law and finance departments to determine the future of these companies that had been given funds.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2018