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Punjab govt changes secretaries to set its house in order

Updated April 15, 2019

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Insiders said the change in bureaucracy was decided during a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan a few days ago. ─ Photo courtesy PTI/File
Insiders said the change in bureaucracy was decided during a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan a few days ago. ─ Photo courtesy PTI/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Sunday changed several important administrative secretaries including those heading the home and finance departments in an effort to, what sources said, improve its performance.

Insiders attribute the poor performance to a lack of leadership in Punjab and of coordination between the elected leaders and bureaucracy intimidated by regular court and NAB bashings and baffled over the overall administrative situation.

They said the new faces would also encounter the limitations, hurdles or fears of accountability in matters dealt even with all the legal caution, which struck the outgoing officers.

Seasoned bureaucrats were once part of Shahbaz Sharif’s team

“The new officers are a part of Shahbaz Sharif’s team selected with care. They have deep insight of the governance but the conditions which were met by their predecessors remain the same,” an official said.

Insiders said the change in bureaucracy was decided during a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan a few days ago. Some ministers too might also be changed because of their unsatisfactory performance, they said.

According to a notification issued by the provincial government, Additional Secretary Home Fazeel Asghar was changed and repatriated to the federal government because of what insiders said his performance which could not impress the PTI leadership. He was replaced by Secretary Irrigation Syed Ali Murtaza Shah.

Known as a law knowing officer, Mr Shah had earlier declined to become the home secretary when he was selected for the post by the PTI government upon its inception. Mr Shah was replaced by Dr Ahmad Javed Qazi.

The all-important Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Dr Raheal Ahmad Siddiqui was posted as Secretary Finance in place of Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh who was sent to the federal government.

Considered an expert in public financing, Mr Sheikh had earlier refused to continue as the finance secretary and applied for three-year extraordinary leave. And insiders said, the government had no choice but to post Dr Raheal as the finance secretary because none other was available to head the finance department at a time when it was busy designing the next year’s budget.

“But it would be interesting to know as to how Dr Raheal is able to handle the current financial health of the province suffered badly due to the poor revenue collection and a marked shortfall in federal receipts,” an official said.

Secretary (Coordination) to Chief Minister Dr Muhammad Shoaib Akbar was asked to look after the post of the Principal Secretary till the appointment of a regular incumbent.

Former Lahore Commissioner Abdullah Khan Sumbal was posted as Secretary Services in place of Ahmad Raza Sarwar who was sent to the federal government.

Secretary Transport Babar Shafi was transferred and directed to report to the S&GAD for further orders. He was replaced by Secretary Agriculture Dr Wasif Khurshid.

Secretary Food Shoukat Ali was transferred and posted as Secretary Agriculture vice Dr Wasif Khurshid.

Mr Shoukat Ali was replaced by OSD Nasim Sadiq, a provincial service BS-21 officer considered close to Shahbaz Sharif when he was the provincial chief minister.

Secretary Excise and Taxation Sher Alam Mahsud was changed and sent to the federal government. He was also one of the officials whom the PTI wanted to post as the home secretary. He was also a member of the teams of the Sharifs.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2019