ISLAMABAD: The PML-N coalition government on Saturday removed Dr Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan as the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission (PC) ahead of the completion of his three-year tenure and the additional charge was given to Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal.
Dr Khan was appointed as Planning Commission deputy chairman on Aug 1, 2020 for a period of three years after his retirement as a BPS-22 officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service. Before his retirement, he was first appointed to the commission as its deputy chairman on August 3, 2019.
The post of deputy chairman was reverted to a federal secretary after a gap of 23 years.
Sources in the PC told Dawn that the position was given to the planning minister, who wanted to keep both positions under his purview. Mr Iqbal was minister and PC deputy chairman between 2013-18. The actual power lies with the deputy chairman, who chairs the Central Development Working Party to approve projects up to Rs10 billion, the sources said.
Ahsan Iqbal given additional charge
According to the sources, the power of finalisation of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) also falls under the purview of the PC deputy chairman along with the submission of a summary to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council, another high council which approves multi-billion rupee development projects.
According to the sources, Mr Iqbal was given the portfolio for speedy finalisation of development projects because of the election year. It is worth mentioning that PTI Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtyar also held both positions for a brief period before the appointment of a separate deputy chairman.
Asad Umar also did not keep both positions and confined himself to the minister level.
The PC is a financial and public policy development institution that comes under the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms. The commission, in tandem with the Ministry of Finance, undertakes research studies and state policy development initiatives for the growth of the national economy and the expansion of public and state infrastructure in the country. The PTI government introduced reforms in PC by introducing senior professional pay scales (SPPS) to attract better people from the market.
According to the establishment order of March 22, 2019, the remuneration (all-inclusive) for SPPS-I stands between Rs1.5 million to Rs2m, SPPS-II at Rs1m to Rs1.49m and SPPS-III at Rs0.5m to Rs0.9m, respectively.
Dr Khan was appointed as the deputy chairman of SPPS-I, with a salary of Rs1.5m and other benefits and privileges.According to a PC notification, if a minister or minister of state is appointed as deputy chairman, he/she will not be entitled to SPPS-I benefits and only be entitled to federal minister/MoS salaries, allowances, and privileges.
According to the source, Mr Iqbal will not be entitled to SPPS-I benefits.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2022