PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly was informed on Monday that eleven government departments saw their administrative secretaries being reshuffled on six occasions during the last four years, while three departments saw seven secretaries come and go during the same period.

In response to a question by opposition Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MPA Inayatullah Khan, the administration department informed the house through a written reply that the elementary and secondary department’s administrative secretary was transferred on eight occasions from Oct 2017 to 2021.

Besides information and public relations, secretaries of the labour and sports departments, too, were changed seven times during the period.

Principal secretary to the chief minister and the secretaries of the administration, Auqaf, Haj, religious and minority affairs, excise and taxation, energy and power, higher education, inter-provincial coordination, irrigation, planning and development, relief and rehabilitation, and science and information technology departments were replaced on six occasions.

Opposition MPA says removal orders should carry cogent reasons

The home and tribal affairs department was the sole exception to the frequent reshuffle, and it, according to documents, has been headed by the same officer since Jan 2018, which was a year more than two years allowed in the tenure.

On a supplementary question, Inayatullah asked the government to explain whether or not there was a tenure policy for such postings and what the tenure of an administrative secretary was.

Awami National Party MPA Shagufta Malik also supported the MMA lawmaker and said when the administrative secretaries were called to the standing committees of the house to explain issues, the officers responded that they had been around for a month or two in the office.

Mr Inayatullah tried to coax the treasury benches to send the issue to the standing committee on establishment for clarity and said the administrative secretaries of the crucial departments like health, energy and power, information, inter-provincial coordination, irrigation and labour were reshuffled on several occasions during the last three and a half years.

He said the frequent reshuffle of secretaries was a serious issue, which was impacting governance, and the government should clearly have a transfer and posting policy and ensure its implementation.

“If the government removes administrative secretaries, the removal order should be with cogent reasons.

“Give tenure security to the administrative secretaries,” insisted the lawmaker and added that the government should refer the matter to the concerned standing committee to formulate proper tenure policy for the senior officers.

Labour minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said the officers were being transferred under Section 10 of the Civil Servants Act and could be posted to any post. He said appointment to positions above Grade 18 was the prerogative of the chief minister.

Regarding the tenure, the minister said an official could stay on the same post for the maximum number of two years, but no word existed about the minimum period.

Yousafzai opined that the assembly had empowered the chief minister to make the transfers and postings, and it was another subject if the house wished to withdraw those powers.

Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani stopped Mr Inayatullah saying his question has been answered.

Responding to another question, special assistant to the chief minister Kamran Khan Bangash said recruitment of 300 specialist doctors, emergency medical officers and medical officers was in process in seven merged tribal districts under the Accelerated Implementation Programme.

He said the statement of new expenditures, which was basic requirement for fresh appointment of employees in public sector, had been approved.

Minister for labour Shaukat Yousafzai said coalminers were being registered with the Employees’ Old Age Benefit Institution.

He said the mining sector in the merged tribal districts was also regulated and that the government would not allow mining unless leaseholders provided all basic facilities to workers.

The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Partnership (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The government introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mines and Minerals (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Property (Removal of Encroachment) (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the house.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2021

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