PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Safety and Halal Food Authority’s expansion to 15 districts of the province has hit a roadblock as its management puts the hiring of over 200 staff on indefinite hold.
The authority, which was established under the KP Food Safety and Halal Food Authority Act, 2014, began operation in March 2018 and is currently working in the provincial capital and seven divisional headquarters, Kohat, Mardan, Malakand, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Abbottabad.
Sources claimed that in the next phase of its expansion, the authority board, which was headed by the additional chief secretary, had approved earlier this year the appointment of over 200 staff members in 15 districts of the province.
They said the district, where the authority would open offices, included Khyber, Kurram, Charsadda, Nowshera, Swabi, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Chitral, Malakand, Buner, Tank, Lakki Marwat, Hangu, Haripur and Mansehra districts.
An official told Dawn that more than 200 posts were advertised for those districts, while the Pakistan Testing Service was contracted to hold the screening tests of candidates.
DG says staff to be hired after budget okayed
He said more than 10,000 people had applied for those positions, while the PTS had carried out a lengthy exercise to determine the eligibility of applicants.
The official said when the testing agency was to announce test schedule in June or July this year, the authority approached it to stop the process.
He said the PTS was informed by the authority about certain irregularities due to which the entire process was being put on indefinite hold.
The official said there had been no progress on the issue since then. He said the PTS had also collected test fee amounting to Rs 3 million from the candidates for the purpose.
The official said the government had procured 35 vehicles for the authority’s district offices, which were also gathering dust due to prolonged delay in opening its offices at district level.
He said the hiring was launched by the former director general but after his transfer, his successor stopped the process in July 8 this year.
The official said political interference apparently to adjust blue-eyed boys of influential people was behind the suspension of hiring.
He said the new DG not only stopped the hiring process but at the same time soon after taking over the charge, he also transferred two non-technical people and posted them to technical posts.
The official said the assistant director (human resources) was transferred and made the assistant director (food safety) for Kohat division, while the assistant director (food safety) was transferred and appointed the AD (HR).
He said both officials had neither experience nor qualification to perform jobs assigned to them.
The official said the principal staff officer to the DG was also transferred and posted as the AD (food safety), Bannu division, despite lacking the relevant qualification and experience.
He said the two assistant directors, who were hired specifically for food safety and were food scientists, had been posted as the principal staff officer and AD (HR).
Dawn has copies of the transfer and posting notifications.
The official said the move was a clear violation of the law as food scientists knew nothing about HR and food science.
When contacted, Food Safety Authority DG Sohail Khan said the authority was going to call a meeting.
He said currently, the authority’s budget was not approved and until that happened, the authority couldn’t hire staff.
The DG said after the budget’s approval, which was scheduled to happen on Aug 26, a meeting would be called to begin the process of the authority’s expansion to districts.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2019