HYDERABAD, Jan 24: About 20 per cent of employees in BPS-11 to 14 work as and use powers of accountant (BPS-16), auditor or senior auditor (BPS-17) in the district accounts offices in the province in connivance with high officials, according to senior treasury employees.

They complained to Dawn on condition of anonymity that the practice, called ‘officiating’ in bureaucratic jargon, had called into question the finance department’s overall performance.

They said that the practice of officiating continued unabated mostly due to political or monetary reasons. “It is quite clear that those who are officiating, looking after additional duties for which they have not been promoted are doing it with consent of finance department’s high-ups for obvious reasons,” said an employee.

“If the officials in BPS-11 and 14 (who can be considered as auditor or senior auditor) are allowed to officiate as accountant (BPS-17) then they must be supervising entire staff of around 20 or more,” said a treasury employee. He termed it as injustice with senior officials who were regular employees.

There are reports that many accountants in BPS-16 in the accounts offices have not been posted anywhere and they have been made to work under their juniors who are officiating for higher posts.

The practice is causing unrest and resentment among the senior employees, who are either awaiting promotion or posting.

The accounts offices deal with salaries, pension and government provident (GP) fund of the employees belonging to provincial and federal government departments.

Instead of recommending promotion of employees under a due procedure, the high officials have continued with the practice of ‘officiating’ and put on hold promotions of sub-accountant (BPS-11), assistant accountant (BPS-14), accountant (BPS-16) and treasury officer (BPS-17).

The employees said that the NWFP, Balochistan and Punjab governments had promoted employees working on the above seats in July 2007 but only Sindh finance department had yet to upgrade them.

Even the posts that came under accountant general (AG), who worked in the accounts offices had not been upgraded.

“It is only Sindh finance department where upgradation has been awaited while in irrigation, education, health and other provincial departments, these posts have already been upgraded,” said Mushtaq Ahmed Shaikh, general secretary of the Sindh chapter of the All-Pakistan Treasury Services Association.

About 550 employees work in the accounts offices and about 1,000 came under the federal government through AG’s administrative authority.

The provincial employees awaiting upgradation mostly work as sub-accountant and assistant account officers.

Reports said that one factor obstructing promotions for six years was lack of proceedings by the departmental promotion committee and the departments’ inability to finalise promotion cases.

Mr Shaikh said that there were 34 assistant accountants awaiting promotion to next cadre of assistant accountant in BPS-14 from BPS-11. Similarly, 15 treasury officers (BPS-17) were to be promoted to BPS-18, he said.

The promotion committee last met on Feb 13, 2008 but it did not recommend any promotions after finding documents of some employees incomplete.

The committee takes into account and verifies employees’ credentials like clean record of annual confidential reports (ACRs) and adverse entries before recommending promotion.