ISLAMABAD: In a major policy decision, the government has started the process of abolition of tens of thousands of Grade 1-16 posts in the federal government that have been vacant for a minimum of one year as part of the right-sizing plan agreed to with the World Bank.
On Wednesday, the ministry of finance asked the establishment division’s secretary to proceed on the matter in line with a decision of the Cabinet Implementation Committee “to abolish all posts that have remained vacant for more than one year in BPS 1-16 in all ministries, divisions and Executive Departments”.
The decision is part of the government’s commitment with the international lending agencies, including the World Bank, for the “reorganisation and right-sizing of the federal government” to control expenditure on running of the civil government.
“It has already been desired by the Prime Minister’s Office and the World Bank that governance apparatus may be right-sized and smart and unnecessary expenditure be curtailed,” the letter said. At present, the federal government has sanctioned posts of about 680,000, but more than 80,000 of them have been vacant for more than a year.
The finance ministry said its communication to the establishment division that the number of employees in the federal government had “increased consistently during the last decade and due to this the annual salary bill has increased by three times and the pension bill is becoming unmanageable”.
The right-sizing decision is part of government’s commitment with international agencies
The pension bill of the federal government has been estimated at Rs470 billion for the current fiscal year. It includes pension of military officials at Rs370bn.
Compared to this, the entire expenditure on the running of the federal government is estimated at Rs475bn for this year. The authorities believed that “structure of the federal government is lopsided, with 95pc employees in Grades 1-16 consuming 85pc of the salary bill”.
The World Bank believes these support staff should not be more than 50pc of the total strength in modern government apparatuses.
The Prime Minister’s Adviser on Austerity and Institutional Reforms, Dr Ishrat Hussain, told Dawn it had been observed that there was a “fill gap” of 12-13pc between sanctioned posts and actual strength of the employees working against those posts.
This meant that 84-85pc of sanctioned posts normally remained filled and remaining posts stay vacant.
Dr Hussain said about 71,000 posts in these grades were vacant for two or three years and the government had decided to freeze those posts. There would be no more recruitment against such posts, he said, adding however that the grade 1-16 jobs would be increased in essential public services like those in the social sector.
He explained the positions of teachers, nurses, paramedics and police would not only be filled but increased. However, he added, it was yet to be concluded as to how many posts in social sectors and public service delivery jobs would be filled and how many posts would stand abolished as the finance division was currently engaged with relevant entities and the establishment division.
On the other hand, positions like clerks (UDCs and LDCs) and Naib Qasids would be frozen, he said. He reiterated that it would become clear at the time of progress report to be submitted to the cabinet as to how many of the 71,000 or so posts would be filled or abolished.
The finance ministry also advised the establishment division that the decision about abolition of vacant posts in BS 1-16 was a new policy recommendation in terms of Rule 16 (j) of Rules of Business, 1973, and the recommendations of the Cabinet Implementation Committee were required to be submitted to the federal cabinet for approval, after seeking permission of the prime minister.
It observed that the recommendations shall have no legal backing unless approved by the federal cabinet.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020