Bill on retirement age increase gets KP Assembly’s nod amid opposition’s walkout

Updated July 23, 2019

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Govt insists move will save Rs80bn in three years, opposition fears more unemployment. — APP/File
Govt insists move will save Rs80bn in three years, opposition fears more unemployment. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday passed an amendment bill to increase the retirement age of employees from 60 years to 63 years after easily defeating two amendments proposed by the opposition.

The government defended the bill insisting that the move will save up to Rs80 billion in the next three years.

The opposition rejected the bill arguing that the law is being amended to facilitate a small number of officials, who are on the verge of retirement.

Adviser to the chief minister on elementary and secondary education Ziaullah Bangash tabled the move to pass the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Servants (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan chaired the sitting. The opposition staged a walkout when the amendment was put to vote.

Govt insists move will save Rs80bn in three years, opposition fears more unemployment

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MPA Inayatullah Khan moved amendments to Clause 1, for sub-clause (2) and Clause 2, in paragraph (b) of the bill and proposed the substitution of the word ‘sixty-three’ with the word ‘fifty-eight’.

Awami National Party MPA Shagufta Malik supported him complaining that the amendment proposed by her was not entertained.

Opposing the amendment, Mr Inayatullah said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had governments in the centre and Punjab but it didn’t change the age of retirement there.

He said adviser to the prime minister on institutional reforms and austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain had recommended 55 years as the age of retirement but the KP government’s amendment was contrary to his (Ishrat) recommendations.

The MMA member said Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and finance minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra were not aware of the repercussions of increase in the age of retirement. He said the move would backfire and would further increase unemployment in the province.

“This amendment serves the purpose of few officers, who are on the verge of retirement. And I know the officials behind this bill,” he said, adding that the move would affect 60,000-70,000 youths.

Mr Inayatullah said the law would also affect seniority of employees that might start a tug of war between junior and senior employees.

Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Nighat Yasmin Orakzai said PTI chairman Imran Khan had also promised to fix the retirement age at 55 years. She said the bill were prepared haphazardly without looking into consequences.

Ms Orakzai said the ruling PTI should increase the retirement age in centre and Punjab if it was financially beneficial.

Adviser Ziaullah gave credit to the chief minister and finance minister for introducing the bill after extensive homework and said the initiative would save the government up to Rs80 billion.

He said the money would be utilised to generate jobs. The adviser said the government had planned to create around 30,000 jobs only in education sector.

During the question hour, minister for mines and minerals Dr Amjad Ali Khan informed the house that the department had made an agreement with the Geological Survey of Pakistan to conduct geological survey in the province, including merged tribal districts. He said the survey would be completed by the end 2021.

The minister said the province had huge deposits of minerals, which hadn’t been explored.

He said 73 per cent area of the province’s settled districts and 94 per cent of the merged districts had yet to be explored. Dr Amjad said the proper mapping of mineral deposits would be carried out.

Speaking on an adjournment motion, MMA MPA Inayatullah Khan drew the house’s attention towards high dropout rate in government primary schools.

He said 73-77 per cent students left primary education and according to the latest Economic Survey of Pakistan, the literacy rate in KP was lower than Balochistan’s.

The MPA said KP Independent Monitoring Unit’s recently reported that the number of out-of- school children in the province was 1.8 million, while majority of the children abandoned schooling after primary level due to the shortage of schools. He said the literacy rate had stuck in the province due to multiple reasons, while 80 per cent students could not get admission to colleges.

Responding to the mover, adviser Ziaullah said the number of out-of-school children had totalled 2.6 million after the merger of seven tribal districts with KP.

He said the department had introduced the second shift to enrol out-of-school children. The adviser said schools had begun operation in rented buildings.

He claimed that one million children had already been enrolled, while the government was taking steps to improve the quality of education and increase literacy rate.

Mr Ziaullah said 5,000 teachers would be recruited in merged districts.

The adjournment motion was admitted for a detailed discussion.

The government introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mines Safety, Inspection and Regulation Bill, 2019, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Essential Personnel (Registration) (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The sitting was adjourned until Aug 5.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2019