The Punjab government has finally given a nod to heavy allowances the Punjab Ombudsman recommended for its officers and lower staff, Minute Mirror has learnt.
The provincial Finance Department (FD) had earlier expressed serious concerns over the Ombudsman Punjab notification which, without consultation with the public finance manager (FD), had sanctioned heavy amounts as allowances to all its officers, including advisors and consultants. However, Ombudsman Azam Suleman has made the Punjab Finance Department approve the same.
A senior officer of the Finance Department told this newspaper on the condition of anonymity 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 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.
The finance department has to notify the revised judicial allowance of all judicial officers of the province at the rate of 1.5 times the basic scale in 2022. Earlier, all the above officers had been drawing allowances according to the pay scales 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 have already got such heavy allowances. The Punjab Ombudsman, a couple of weeks ago, also granted such allowances to its employees.
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 grade 19 and above will get Rs135,000 per month other than their salaries, officers of grades 17 and 18 Rs 90000, grades 11-16 Rs70000. Likewise, officials of grades 6 to 10 will receive Rs55000 and lower graders (basic scale 1-5) Rs40,000 per month.
As per the reported details, the basic pay scale-wise amounts under the judicial allowance account would be for BPS 1 to BPS 5 Rs20000, for BPS six to BPS 10 Rs25000, for BPS 11 to BPS 16 Rs30000, for BPS 17 to BPS 18 Rs40000 and for BPS 19 and above the allowance will be Rs60000 per month. Likewise, under the utility allowance, the scale-wise amounts will be Rs6000 from BPS 1 to BPS 5, Rs10000 to BPS 6 to 10, Rs14000 for BPS 11 to BPS 16, Rs18 000 to BPS 17 to BPS 18, and Rs30000 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 Rs14,000 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 a 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 head office only.
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 said, get 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 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, is to relate these hefty allowances to service delivery and rating of departments. A senior officer of the Ombudsman office, however, defended the move saying that the employees of this office had been ignored by the government while granting the allowances. He said that all the officials of the Civil Secretariat had already been drawing such allowances.