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July 31, 2015

All set for cluster-based CSS exams

Top Story

July 31, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The Planning Commission is all set to recommend Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for introducing a cluster-based examination system for CSS from 2017 by abolishing the existing generalised system under ambitious civil service reforms.
Nawaz had assigned the task to Federal Minister for Planning and Reforms Professor Ahsan Iqbal to devise a strategy for the much awaited civil service reforms.Under the cluster based examination system, few clusters will be developed such as Economics, Taxation and Accounting.
The examination will be based on specialised fields in accordance with educational knowledge and skills instead of getting a generalised exam for the selection of candidates through Central Superior Service (CSS) of Pakistan.
Planning Commission Member (Governance) Tahir Hijazi on Thursday said that their focus was on transforming the training system of bureaucrats as they were developing new contents and modules to equip future bureaucrats with latest knowledge and competence to manage different affairs effectively.
“We will recommend abolishing ACRs system which had failed to deliver and new IT based system will be introduced for evaluation purposes under which seven officers will evaluate performance to give promotion,” he added.
But in recent past, the civil service reforms were largely remained a pie dream as it failed because of political will or executed in highly pathetic manner. For instance, the latest example is monetisation of cars which was highly misused by the top baboos from last several years and now the government seemed helpless to reverse it.
Former Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and architect of numerous work on civil service reforms in Pakistan, Dr Ishrat Hussain said he had recommended cluster-based examination for CSS for certain services because in accounts and audit group certain officers became part of it who could not read out balance sheet. He cited that MBBS doctor joined FBR but he did not have

any knowledge about income tax, sales tax or customs.
There should be no bar but skills of certain clusters should be tested among candidates, he said and added that if medical doctor developed his or her skills about economics and accounting, he or she should be allowed to sit in these cluster exams to join this service group.
However, a former bureaucrat, who dealt with civil service reforms, told this scribe that the purpose of CSS was to hunt down raw talent instead of specialised talent which was groomed through extensive training for performing in specialised fields.
In India, he said, this issue was extensively debated and finally it was decided that the generalised system of examination should continue instead of cluster based examination for specific services or groups.
Those who are working on civil service reforms at the moment, they themselves do not know about its exact size and scope so they will not be able to deliver anything on this front, he candidly argued.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms Ahsan Iqbal called for speeding up the pace of work on civil service reforms in the light of vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to make it performance driven and quality service delivery oriented. He stated this while chairing a meeting on civil service reforms on Thursday.
He felt that general examination system for civil service is not appropriate and suggested that it should be changed to clusters with specialised knowledge and skills.He said that time has come for taking decisions by targeting early harvest initiatives. He stated, “Training programmes will be reformed to give modern skills to civil servants to equip them with new policy making and implementation skills.”

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