LAHORE: The Punjab government has created 15 full-fledged administrative departments in the newly-established south Punjab secretariat but without a proper transition plan in place.
The Punjab finance department on Monday created 77 new posts of administrative secretaries, additional secretaries and deputy secretaries for the secretariat and soon afterwards notified posting of 10 secretaries – offering them maximum functional autonomy.
The Punjab government had already allocated 35 per cent of its provincial budget for south Punjab and ring-fenced it.
The posting of secretaries came as a surprise as the move would bifurcate the jurisdiction of already serving secretaries’ departments. The plan of deciding respective secretaries’ jurisdiction is reportedly yet to be prepared.
Proper transition plan yet to be in place; 10 secretaries posted; all officials to draw double salary
More serious issues will be in the finance as well as P&D departments as sources [close to the developments] ask how there could be two decision-makers, when there would be one account of the provincial government.
According to a finance department notification, the secretaries’ posts have been created in livestock and dairy development, planning and development (P&D), housing urban development and public health engineering (HUD&PHE), board of revenue, communication and works, local government and community development (LG&CD), home, agriculture, health, education, finance, wildlife and fisheries, irrigation, S&GAD, and law.
In total, the finance department has created one post of BS-21 for the additional chief secretary (south); 21 posts of BS-20 for the administrative secretaries and director-generals of different departments, 21 posts of BS-19 for additional secretaries and 34 posts of deputy secretaries.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stalwarts say the party has fulfilled its promise of creating south Punjab secretariat and granted it ‘full functional autonomy’ so that people should not be compelled to go all the way to Lahore to get their local issues resolved.
According to the posting of secretaries at the newly-created posts, Punjab primary and secondary heath department special secretary Ajmal Bhatti (BS-19) has been transferred and posted as secretary health department, south Punjab secretariat, in his own pay and scale, against a newly-created slot.
Additional secretary (budget) finance department Rana Obaid Ullah Anwar (BS-19) has been transferred and posted as secretary finance department, in his own pay and scale, against a newly-created post till Dec 31 i.e. the date when his extended period of deputation shall expire.
Programme Director, Punjab Resource Management Programme (PRMP) Shoaib Iqbal Syed (BS-19) has been transferred and posted as secretary P&D, in his own pay and scale, against a new post.
Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Director-General Raja Khurram Shahzad Umar (BS-19) has been transferred and posted as secretary LG&CD department, in his own pay and scale, against a new post.
OSD Liaqat Ali Chatha (BS-19) has been posted as secretary HUD&PHE department, in his own pay and scale, against a newly-created slot.
Commissioner Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA), Multan, Saqib Ali Ateel (BS-20) has been transferred and posted as secretary agriculture department, south Punjab secretariat, against a new post.
Additional Commissioner (Coordination), Bahawalpur Aftab Ahmad Pirzada has been transferred and posted as secretary livestock and dairy development department, in his own pay and scale, against a new slot.
Director (Development and Finance) Bahawalpur Nosheen Malik (BS-19) has been transferred and posted as secretary S&GAD, south Punjab secretariat, in her own pay and scale, against a newly-created post.
ACS (home) Momin Agha (BS-21) has been entrusted with the additional charge of the post of secretary home, south Punjab secretariat, in addition to his own duties and till the posting of a regular incumbent.
Similarly, Punjab law and parliamentary affairs department secretary Nazir Ahmad Gajana has been assigned the additional charge of the post of secretary law, south Punjab secretariat, in addition to his own duties and till the posting of a regular incumbent.
The Punjab government is yet to post administrative secretaries to the board of revenue, C&W, education, wildlife and fisheries, and irrigation departments.
While the Punjab government has assigned the additional charge of home and law departments to incumbent secretaries, it is interesting to note that seven BS-19 officers have been posted against BS-20 secretaries’ posts – in their own pay and scales.
Interestingly, the Punjab government has offered double salaries to the officials being posted at the south Punjab secretariat – to compensate their relocation. Meanwhile, other officials from south Punjab and serving at Punjab civil secretariat are asking whether they would also be offered double salaries for relocation.
When contacted, a senior bureaucrat told Dawn that the newly-posted secretaries would now be required to start preparing their organisational set-up including human resources, which was not in sight as now. The respective new south Punjab departments would also need to spell out that who would report where. For example, he asked a provincial cadre official would report where?
The official said practically the overall policy would be of the provincial government and the south Punjab would serve as another indicator to present its performance. The official also acknowledged that the P&D as well as finance departments’ bifurcation would be complicated because there could not be two cash balance managers.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2020