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February 21, 2020

Bureaucracy’s serious salary challenge haunts govt

National

 
February 21, 2020

Previously, the PTI government raised the salaries of NAB employees, which is taken as the precedent by the FIA to get raise.

Only recently, the Supreme Court in its order directed the government to give 20 percent special allowance to all the federal government employees and observed that the federal government could not discriminate against its employees.

However, it is interesting to note that the Supreme Court as well as all High Courts had increased by 300 percent the salaries of their employees several years back. These raises for the officials of the judiciary were referred to as precedents in different cases where selected groups were allowed special pay raises but it all ended up furthering discrimination. While the government has decided to raise the salary of FIA employees by almost 150 percent, the Law Ministry has also moved a case for 300 percent raise in the salaries of its officials. The Secretaries Committee has also recommended 100 percent raise in the salaries of employees of federal secretariat besides seeking additional Rs400,000 a month special allowance for each federal secretary.

In their separate demand, the employees of federal secretariat have demanded raise in their salary by 120 percent and threatened to go on pen-down strike from March 2 if their demand is not met.

The statement said the pay structure in the federal secretariat was depressing for employees irrespective of grade. The federal secretariat employees are getting 20 percent secretariat allowance, which make them better off as compare to those serving in attached departments etc. Interesting, the SC early this month found the same secretariat allowance as discriminatory and thus ordered the federal government to give this 20 percent to all employees of the federal government. According to a Finance Ministry source, the government has not yet received the written order of the SC but according to the preliminary calculations, the government may need additional Rs150 billion to implement the SC order.

The SC bench, which heard the case, observed that the federal government could not discriminate against its employees and ruled that now all the federal government employees will get the special allowance.

The then PPP government had approved a special allowance of 20 percent in March 2013 for the employees of the ministries and divisions of Pakistan Secretariat but it was not given to the employees of the attached departments.

To end discrimination, the employees of other departments, including the Federal Government College Teachers Association, Pakistan PWD, departments of communication security, CDA union and Pakistan Council of Science and Technology, had approached the IHC in April 2013 challenging that the allowance should also be paid to them as well.

While the SC wants an end to discrimination in salaries, the Secretaries Committee recently recommended 100 percent increase for federal secretariat employees only without informing the rulers that these recommendations if approved will further distort the unified pay scale system.

Interestingly what the Secretaries Committee recommended to the government would create yet another exception while following the precedents, which were cleverly created and followed one after the other to benefit the most influential groups within the country’s civil service.

Additionally, the Secretaries Committee decision if approved and implemented by the government will most benefit the secretaries themselves. According to the committee’s recommendations, a uniform raise of 100 percent of basic pay as Secretariat Allowance for all employees - BS-1 to BS-22- of federal secretariat but in additional the federal secretariat and additional secretaries in-charge of the ministries and divisions should be given “reasonable” executive allowance, which in the committee minutes is mentioned as Rs400,000 a month.

Special pay raises given to special groups of government servants from time to time through executive orders have completely distorted the unified pay scale system, introduced for the civil bureaucracy in 1973 through administrative reforms.

Bypassing the legislature, the repeated interventions from the executive have created such absurd islands of exceptions. In 2018, initially it was the KP government, which allowed 150 percent raise given as “Executive Allowance” only to PAS (ex-DMG) and PMS (ex-PCS) officers serving in the province. Mid last year (July 2019) the Buzdar government while following the KP precedent raised by 150 percent the running basic salary of provincial bureaucratic elite without consulting the provincial assembly. This highly discriminatory raise was linked with selected almost 1,700 posts in the name of “Executive Allowance”. The beneficiaries predominately belong to ex-DMG (now Pakistan Administrative Service) and ex-PCS (presently called Provincial Management Service). This phenomenal raise was approved by the provincial cabinet and notified on July 29 within weeks after the Punjab Assembly passed the provincial budget.

The posts earmarked for the “Executive Allowance” include almost all posts of provincial secretaries, additional chief secretaries, members of Board of Revenue, additional secretaries, deputy secretaries, section officers, commissioners, deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners, revenue officials, special judicial magistrates. However, no below grade 17 officer in these departments/offices was allowed this raise. Before the KP and Punjab, the Supreme Court, High Courts, FBR, NAB etc had allowed their employees to draw higher salaries than others. It is said that such exceptional raises for selected influential classes of the civil bureaucracy would ignore predominant majority of the government servants.