ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel has urged the need to revamp the education system in less developed areas to help their residents compete in the Central Superior Services (CSS) exams, which candidates must clear to qualify for the civil service.

The Senate standing committee on cabinet secretariat on Tuesday received a detailed briefing on the Special Central Superior Services Examination, 2023, and also discussed the revamping of the education system in less developed areas for candidates who are capable and deserve to join civil service.

The committee chairman, independent Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad, lamented the “colossal quantum of failure” of the competitive examination, especially from rural areas.

The establishment division informed committee members that presently 52 unfilled vacancies belonged to non-Muslim candidates of Punjab.

It was argued that the concession of age relaxation by 32 years and one additional chance under this year’s special CSS exam would elevate the chances of success.

at amending Civil Servants Act to stop re-employment of civil servants after retirement

It was briefed that the opportunity of special CSS was available to candidates belonging to the minority quota from Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, women and minority from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and open for all candidates from Sindh, Balochistan and the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata).

It was further briefed that for special CSS exam, two phases of application have been allowed. The first phase lasted from Dec 18, 2022, to Jan 4, 2023, whereas the second phase lasted from Feb 26 to March 14 this year. A total of 44,238 applications were received till March 8.

It was informed that coaching would be provided for compulsory subjects and interviews could be conducted from June to August with the candidates who will clear a preliminary test with multiple-choice questions.

Four candidates will be selected against each existing vacancy falling under the respective quota for the exam. The matter was deferred for further discussion on practical practice and monitoring of the same.

Senate officers’ recruitment

The committee members also discussed in detail matters related to recruiting Senate officers in Basic Pay Scale (BPS) 17 and above by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC).

The joint secretary of the Senate secretariat debated that under the special instructions of the Senate chairman on discouraging the culture of political influences on recruitment in the upper house of parliament, a fair, transparent and merit-based recruitment procedure must be adopted.

He said that the Senate chairman revised the Senate Secretariat Services Act, 2017, and later notified the Senate Secretariat Service Rules, 2021.

He said that on directions of the chairman, the Senate Secretariat Ser­vices Act, 2017, and Senate Sec­retariat Services Rules, 2017, have been reviewed and necessary chan­ges have been made to the amended act and revised service rules.

He said the chairman emphasised that recruitments for BPS 17 and above should be made through the FPSC.

The FPSC secretary was of the view that the service rules of the Senate secretariat and the recruitment policy of the FPSC were in contradiction. He said there were also several procedural issues related to the matter, and minor discrepancies needed to be removed.

To address these concerns, FPSC officials suggested that Senate service rules needed to be vetted by the establishment division and necessary amendments should be made to the FPSC act.

Moreover, they also objected to the allocation of positions of only BPS 17 and above to the FPSC, and instead suggested that positions in BPS 16 should also be sent to the commission from the Senate once the issue of the mandate was resolved.

Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill

Tuesday’s meeting also discussed a bill titled the ‘Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2023’, which has been designed to amend the Civil Servants Act, 1973, to stop the re-employment of civil servants.

Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah of PML-F said that all employees should enjoy equal opportunity to excel and said the legitimate expectation of a civil servant to be promoted to a higher position is denied when another civil servant who, even after reaching the age of superannuation, is re-inducted into a senior post.

However, the establishment division officials did not support the proposed amendment and said that employment under the act was allowed in order to make a pool of experience available at the government’s disposal.

Besides, there is a detailed and strict process which is being followed for re-employment, they said, adding that the re-employment did not lead to a promotional block, and a retiring officer was retained for a specified period and “in the public interest”.

LPG cylinders

The Senate panel also took up a matter related to unregistered LPG manufacturers and the deadly gas cylinder blasts.

The committee warned the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) if it failed to fix the issue, an assessment would be carried out and the committee would proceed against the regulator in case of failure. The Senate body gave Ogra six weeks to provide practical results on the committee’s recommendations.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2023



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