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Incentives sans accountability lead nowhere

"Pension and other post-retirement facilities of officers should be abolished and salaries should be given to them according to the market rate so that they can compete with the private sector"

On the one hand, the political titanic of Pakistan is sinking fast, and on the other hand, politicians are trying their level best to set things up for the next elections.

Pakistan is among the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. The recent floods cost Pakistan more lives and money than any other country, and Pakistan has had to appeal for assistance from other countries, because, people, not only, have become homeless, their properties, livestock and houses have all been badly destroyed.

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But on the other hand, we see that the government expenditure is continuing ruthlessly. Whoever assumes the power considers the development of their area as his only priority. The provincial capital of Lahore has always been the axis of the PML-N and nowadays Chief Minister Ch Pervez Elahi has not only given the status of a division to his native Gujrat district but also allocated unprecedented funds. In order to ensure the development of this area, according to an estimate, more than Rs60 billion funds have been allocated; a major chunk has also been approved as a supplementary grant. All know that this is a tactic to ensure a clear victory in the next elections.

The chief minister has said that government officers who are posted in special projects, programmes, policy units, policy sales, companies, authorities, foundations, funds, commissions, Punjab Information Technology Board, or administrative departments against non-cadre posts will be given a heavy allowance this time.

Earlier, the Punjab government had stopped heavy allowances given to the blue-eyed officers on the apex court orders. The court had also directed the authorities concerned to deposit the overdrawn money to the exchequer but to no avail.

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It should be noticed that government had allowed the incentive allowance of Rs Rs350,0000 to Rs400,000 per month for Grade-22 officers, Rs300,000 to Rs350,000 for Grade-21 officers, Rs250,000 to Rs300,000 for Grade-20 officers, Rs200,000 to Rs225,000 for Grade-19 officers, Rs100,000 to Rs175,000 for Grade-18 officers, Rs100,000 to Rs150,000 for Grade-17 officers and Rs75,000 to Rs150,000 for Grade-16 officers.

It should be noted that general officers working inside and outside the secretariat are already being given one and a half times the basic salary as the executive allowance. This is in addition to the amount paid for utility bills and other allowances. The officers posted in the South Punjab Secretariat get even more. The government-run think tank, PIDE, in this report said that Pakistani officers are already taking too many allowances. In some cases more than the UN officials.

When people from different services were approached for their comments in this regard, they said that there is a general impression that too many allowances are aimed at gaining loyalty of officers, which is not at all fruitful.

Advocate Asghar Ali said that there is an impression in the society that both the authority and money are necessary to be able to lead a successful life and without them, one feels insecurity.

A senior officer of the Audit and Accounts Service said that the government should first find out how the executive allowance given to officers has improved service delivery. The situation is worse than before; there is an inter-service rivalry everywhere. You can imagine from the daily demands that people are in a bad situation in the administrative departments. He said the government should hold a third-party review to analyze whether giving such allowances leads to any improvement or not. In this situation, when people are drowning, it is not possible to shower money.

When Asif Ali, an educationist, was spoken to in this regard, he said that it seems that these are the last days of the Sikh dynasty as it was eliminated by the British. He said that there is a need to write a new Magna Carta in which all institutions running with taxpayers’ money should be held accountable. He said that the private sector with the highest delivery level pays in pennies to its employees.

He said that the 1971 floods in Bangladesh became the basis for the creation of East Pakistan. It was this phenomenon, which laid the foundation of independent Bangladesh because, after this, the deprivations of the people were severe, which the government failed to settle and the Awami League took full advantage of this. Even today, on the one hand, you are asking for money from the world and on the other hand, you are dumping it on your officers. The NDMA, PDMA and other departments, whose negligence caused so much financial loss, should have been held accountable. You bless them all more, he complained.

He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had brought a big plan in the center and the province, under which, incompetent officers were to be dismissed but on the contrary, the Punjab government has incentivized them. Where is the directory retirement policy, he asked.

He said that by abolishing the current permanent type of employment, jobs should be given to officers based on performance. Pension and other post-retirement facilities of officers should be abolished and salaries should be given to them according to the market rate so that they can compete with the private sector. They then will be able to fulfil their responsibilities with diligence. He said that NIPA, MPDD and NSPP-type of training institutions which have no role in the field should be stopped and these bodies should act as research institutes to find out solutions to flaws in the system.

He said that foreign politicians were credible, like Abraham Lincoln, who sacrificed his life while saving the country from Balkanisation, but it was reversed in 1971 when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto sacrificed the country to come into power. He said that the nation should discourage such a trend. Besides, he said, the parliamentary democratic system is the root of multiple evils and no hope of any improvement can be expected from it. It is very important to get rid of it as soon as possible. It is necessary to do an experiment on the Islamic presidential system, like America, Russia, France and many other developed countries adopted to start progressing, otherwise, we will continue moving without compass.



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