The provincial Finance Department (FD) has expressed serious concerns over the Punjab ombudsman’s notification, which without previous consultation with the public finance manager (FD), sanctioned heavy amounts as allowances to all its officers including advisors and consultants.
A senior officer of the finance department told this newspaper on the condition of anonymity that the act of the ombudsman office was devoid of the Constitution of Pakistan. He said that all the acts where public finances are involved needed to be consulted with the FD, otherwise, he said it would be deemed illegal. He said that if the government ignores this act of the ombudsman’s office, all the autonomous bodies, semi-government instructions, authorities, etc. would exercise this and increase the allowances of its employees without following any rules and criteria. He said that under Article 139 of the Constitution of Pakistan all the provincial and federal governments have to frame their Rules of Business which guide and govern all the departments to run their businesses.
Meanwhile, the Finance Department following the footsteps of the federal government has adopted the revised basic pay scale 2022. The federal government the other day adopted the Punjab government’s sanctioned executive allowances for its staff. Also, it notified the revised allowances for the chief minister’s office, Governor House officials and officers at the rate of the revised pay scale 2022. Moreover, this department has also notified revised judicial allowance of all judicial officers of the province at the rate of 1.5 times the basic scale 2022. Earlier, all the above officers had been drawing allowances according to pay scale 2017.
It is to be recalled that following the footsteps of other powerful institutions like the judiciary, Punjab Assembly Secretariat, Chief Minister Office, and Governor House, bureaucracy, police, doctors, and engineers, the Punjab ombudsman has also granted such allowances to its employees.
As per documents, the allowances will be admissible to all sanctioned posts of Basic Pay Scales (BPS) 1 to 21 and will be granted with effect from 1st July 2022.
There will be a heavy addition to the gross pay of all the employees. The officers of grades 19 and above will get Rs135,000 per month other than their salaries, officers of grades 17 and 18 Rs90000, and grades 11-16 Rs70,000. Likewise, officials of grades 6 to 10 will receive Rs55,000 and lower graders (basic scale 1-5) Rs40,000 per month.
As per the details, the basic pay scale-wise amounts under the judicial allowance account would be for BPS 1 to BPS 5 Rs20,000, for BPS six to BPS 10 Rs25,000, for BPS 11 to BPS 16 Rs30,000, for BPS 17 to BPS 18 Rs40,000 and BPS 19 and above the allowance will be Rs60,000 per month.
Likewise, under the utility allowance, the scale-wise amounts will be Rs6000 from BPS 1 to BPS 5, Rs10,000 to BPS 6 to 10, and Rs14,000 for BPS 11 to BPS 16, Rs18 000 from BPS 17 to BPS 18, and Rs30,000 to officers of BPS 19 and above.
There is another allowance special compensation allowance granted to all the employees of this office. This allowance will be Rs14,000 for lower graders BPS 1 to BPS 5, Rs20,000 for BPS 6 to BPS 10, Rs26,000 for officials BPS 11 to BPS 16, Rs32,000 for officers BPS 17 to BPS 18 and Rs45,000 to BPS 19 and above level officers.
Moreover, a field allowance will also be given to officials and officers of this office. BPS 1 to 5, officials will get Rs14000 per month while grade 6 to grade 10 will receive Rs20,000, BPS 11 to 16 Rs26,000, BPS 17 to 18 Rs32,000 and BPS 19 and above officers will draw Rs45,000 for the month.
The special compensation allowance as per documents will only be admitted for the employees posted in the head office in Lahore and field allowance will be admitted for the employees posted in the original office of the amber’s man Punjab.
It is to be recalled that retired judges and bureaucrats are appointed as consultants and advisors to hear and decide cases in the office. They, as an officer of this office, said, receive Rs200,000 per month as gross salary other than conveyance and its allowance. He said that the employees of this office get less as compared to officials and officers of the secretariat, CM and other offices. He said that the ombudsman seeing the performance of the office decided to grant such allowances to its staff. He said that retired officers posted in other bodies like the Punjab Public Service Commission get much more than this office.
A former finance secretary in Punjab said that the trend of government would damage both the economy and the public sector. He said that there was not an iota of improvement in the performance of the government sector after these heavy allowances were granted. He said that the current financial burden of Rs60 billion after revised allowances would accelerate the pay bill of the province to Rs950 billion annually. The need, he suggested, was to relate these hefty allowances to service delivery and rating of departments.