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Civil service reforms: PM irked by bureaucratic indifference

18 Jan, 2022
Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed his annoyance at matters of governance. File photo
Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed his annoyance at matters of governance. File photo

By Mushtaq Ghumman

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly showing annoyance at secretaries of ministries for slackness in firing of “deadwood” in bureaucracy despite passage of two years, has summoned the secretaries of ten ministries for quizzing, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

The ire of the PM was witnessed at a recent meeting of Federal Cabinet when a decision of Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms (CCIR) titled “Retention of National Institute of Electronics with Ministry of Science and Technology” was presented for ratification.

While briefing the Cabinet on progress made by the Ministries/ Divisions on implementation of Directory Retirement Rules, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Establishment, Shahzad Arbab, apprised that 83 officers in BS-17 to BS-21 had been recommended for retirement.

However, 10 Ministries/ Divisions, which included Aviation, Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC), Human Rights, National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, Petroleum, Privatisation, etc., had not even conducted their meetings in this regard.

“Prime Minister expressed concern over the slack attitude of secretaries of the defaulting Ministries/ Divisions,” the sources added.

Alluding to the incessant complaints by the Cabinet members over the lack of competence of officers, the Prime Minister lamented that when an opportunity was created to get rid of the deadwood through implementing Directory Retirements Rules, almost two years had passed without any tangible progress. This also implies that the

Ministers and Secretaries concerned were satisfied with the quality of human resources at their disposal. When enquired about the status of 83 officers who had been recommended for retirement, the Secretary to the Prime Minister, Azam Khan apprised that the due process had been initiated by issuing show-cause notices and nomination of Hearing Officer.

The Prime Minister directed the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Establishment to arrange his meeting with the Secretaries of 10 defaulting Ministries/ Divisions besides apprising him of the exact status of the process to retire the recommended 83 officers.

The Cabinet directed the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Establishment to arrange a meeting of the Prime Minister with the Secretaries of the 10 Ministries/ Divisions who had not made any progress on the Directory Retirement Rules as yet, besides apprising the Prime Minister of the exact status of the process in respect to the 83 officers recommended for retirement.

In February last, the government had approved civil service reform package, resolving to retire nonperforming and inefficient government servants after the completion of 20 years of service.

The sources said many senior officers are waiting for meeting of high-powered promotion board, headed by the Prime Minister, for the last several months. However, the scheduled meetings of Board have been postponed two or three times.

In June last year, Islamabad High Court (IHC) had given consent on forced retirement of senior bureaucrats by dismissing identical petitions that challenged the Civil Servant (Directory Retirement from Service) Rules, 2020. However, the top bureaucracy showed reluctance to pack their colleagues and used different ways to prolong the due process. Prime Minister on a number of occasions have expressed his resentment on the top bureaucracy for not implementing Cabinet decisions regarding appointments on top positions in different organisations and public sector companies. The Cabinet’s decisions are still unimplemented in several Ministries including the Ministry of Energy.

This article first appeared in Business Recorder on Jan 18, 2022