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October 30, 2020

Will PTI-led govt abolish 71,000 vacant posts?

National

October 30, 2020

October 27 - Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs meeting of the Federal Cabinet. APP    

ISLAMABAD: The PTI-led government’s proposal of abolishing 71,000 vacant posts in various ministries and departments working under the federal government is yet to be implemented as the federal cabinet hasn’t officially approved the summary despite the passage of almost three months.

To implement the government's austerity drive and bring reforms in government departments, Prime Minister Imran Khan had constituted a task force on austerity and government restructuring, led by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain.

On August 05, 2020, Dr Ishrat Hussain gave a presentation to the federal cabinet on the restructuring of the federal government. One of Dr Ishrat-led task force’s recommendations was to abolish 71,000 posts lying vacant for over a year in various federal government departments. The federal cabinet had given a go-ahead to implement these recommendations. However, no official summary has been approved by the federal cabinet in this regard despite the passage of almost three months.

Talking to The News, Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms Dr. Ishrat Hussain said the cabinet had given go-ahead for abolishing the 71,000 posts which are lying vacant for almost three years in various ministries/departments. However a formal summary in this regard is yet to be approved by the federal cabinet." I am trying my best to place the summary before the cabinet in the next two weeks. This requires proper consultation with all the stakeholders, which is why it is taking some time."

When asked whether these vacant posts are solely in federal ministries/ departments, Dr Ishrat clarified that these posts are lying vacant only in the federal government departments. This has nothing to do with provincial governments. He further explained that education, health and police departments are exempted from this policy. Only non-technical posts will be abolished, he said.

“I had consulted with every provincial government in this regard. However, the provincial governments asked me that the policy of abolition of vacant posts should be limited to the federal government only and it shouldn’t be imposed on the provinces. I told the representatives of provincial governments that they are not bound to adopt these policies. However, they can constitute task forces to give their recommendations to the provincial governments for implementing the austerity measures and reduce current expenditures of public departments. Only Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab agreed to constitute task forces in this regard whereas the Sindh government initially agreed to this proposal but I am not sure if there is any task force to implement the austerity drive or not," informed Dr. Ishrat.

Talking about the federal government’s retirement plan for public servants, Dr Ishrat said a review board has been constituted which will regularly review the performance of all the government employees who have completed their 20 years’ service. The board’s review is not limited to lower ranking officials only. It will review the performance of all the government employees, from grade one to grade 22. If any government employee’s performance is unsatisfactory, he will not be able to continue his services. However, the entire process will be transparent and everyone will be given an opportunity of giving explanation before any final decision.

To a question about any financial impact of abolishing 71,000 vacant posts, Dr Ishrat said the federal government’s current expenditures are frozen for the last two years. The 10 percent inflation impact would have cost escalation factor in the government’s expenditures as well but we have adjusted the current expenditures of the government against these vacant posts. The federal government’s expenditures for the current fiscal year are the same as they were in previous years and this is because of the adjustment made by abolishing these 71,000 vacant posts.

When asked how would he relate the prime minister’s promise of creating 10 million jobs before coming into power and the decision of abolishing 71,000 jobs after he came into power, Dr Ishrat said, “The total employment in Pakistan is 64 million out of which 24 million is in agriculture sector, 04 million in public sector and the remaining 36 million employment is being provided by the urban sector. Prime minister’s 10 million jobs promise was meant to be in the private sector as the government doesn’t have the capacity of producing 10 million jobs in the public sector. Kamyab Jawan program and the government’s policies in the construction sector have created a lot of jobs for the people of Pakistan”.

Talking about the government's plan of e-governance, he said 14 out of 44 ministries/departments have been successfully turned into e-offices. The deadline for the remaining 30 ministries/ departments to adopt e-governance is December 2020. When asked whether all the government departments will be able to adopt e-governance by the end of this year, he said he cannot comment on this issue with certainty.