Sunday October 24, 2021

New amendments to rules of business: Punjab govt chooses not to devolve key depts to S Punjab secretariat

September 17, 2021
New amendments to rules of business: Punjab govt chooses not to devolve key depts to S Punjab secretariat

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab rules of business, which have been amended once again to empower the south Punjab secretariat, continue to come under the sway of Takht-e-Lahore (Lahore throne).

The rules have been changed numerous times in an effort to vest powers in the secretariat, which was established almost two years ago. A look at the fresh 20-page amendments reveals that the departments that wield real power in a province still remain with Lahore and have not been shifted to or created anew in the south Punjab secretariat.

For example, there will be no finance department and no planning and development department in south Punjab. They will remain in Lahore dealing with the whole of the Punjab.

Similarly, the most important departments of home and law have also not been created in south Punjab. They also continue to be with Lahore, thus keeping the reins of actual power with the ‘throne’. However, social sector departments such as education, health, housing, and local government have been established in south Punjab.

The infrastructure departments such as communications and works, irrigation, and productive sectors including agriculture, livestock, forest and fisheries and wildlife have been set up in south Punjab.

The amended rules find no mention of departments such as special education, cooperatives, population welfare, Zakat social welfare, Auqaf, prisons, Baitul Mal, sports, tourism, archaeology, women’s development, labour and anti-corruption.

Key departments like mines and minerals, industry and investment, land consolidation and colonies, transport, energy, disaster management and relief, public prosecution, management and professional development, information and culture, literacy, human rights, minorities and religious affairs, food, environment protection and the all-important excise and taxation remain anchored in Lahore and have not been devolved to south Punjab.

Out of 40 odd departments of Punjab based in Lahore, around 13 have been set up in south Punjab, retaining all others in the provincial capital. The new amendments do mention that there will be a south Punjab secretariat, but they do not talk about its location, which has been a contentious issue between different factions of the ruling alliance parties.