ISLAMABAD: Health and education authorities have launched a massive countrywide hunt for health officials, faculty members of medical and general universities and regular government employees who are working on more than one position and getting double perks and privileges as well as monetary benefits, officials said Wednesday.
They said scrutiny to find out dual position-holders was launched after it emerged that dozens of government employees were absent from their duties and were working on the payroll of international donor organisations or were working for two different organisations, drawing perks and privileges from both the positions.
In some cases, faculty members and government employees have been found drawing much higher salaries on donor-based positions while keeping their permanent seats or positions blocked, they said, adding, such officials and faculty members were not doing justice to either of their jobs despite reaping double benefits.
“Drawing double salaries and perks and privileges from two positions is a form of corruption and some people are still doing it. This practice is very common in government departments and public sector academic institutions, which is improper and such people should not do so,” said Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri while talking to The News Thursday. He said for the HEC employees, he had prepared a policy in his previous tenure which he could not implement where Commission’s employees would only be allowed to work for any other organisation once in their entire career for two years and the area of training or expertise would also be decided in consultation with the HEC authorities. “In some medical universities, faculty of the varsity draws salaries from the academic institution as well as hospitals and if it is as per the policy of that particular university, it is fine but if the faculty members are working somewhere else, drawing double perks and privileges, this is illegal and unjustified,” Dr Banuri added.
As HEC is more concerned about the academic affairs of the varsities and institutes of higher education, it would recommend dealing with such matters as per their own charters and rules and regulations, he said, adding that HEC would provide policy guidelines in this connection.
On the other hand, the Health Service Academy (HSA) in Islamabad has directed all the people who were employees of some other health departments and were doing jobs on donor-based positions also in HSA to join their parent departments with immediate effect.
“So far, three senior officials have been relieved of their positions and sent back to their original departments and academic institutions,” HAS Vice Chancellor Dr Shahzad Ali Khan said, saying these one of such officials was already working in Khyber Medical University Peshawar as faculty member, but managed to get a job in HSA on an international donor organisation for one year.
“Later, his contract was extended for another year. Another faculty was regular employee of AJK Health Department and was also selected in HSA on donor-based position. There was a third official who has been asked to report to the Punjab government,” Dr Khan said.
He said dual jobs by officials and faculty members were not only creating problems for both institutions involved but also for the Higher Education Commission, saying if an employee is registered as faculty member in a university, it is very difficult for HEC to put him as faculty member on second job position in other teaching institutes.
“Additionally, donor-based positions are time-bound and dependent on availability of funding. Therefore, second institution remains in fragile state and permanent employees can any time leave and report back to their original departments,” he said, adding that an interesting fact is that almost all development partners and donors working in Pakistan have a very strong policy of not to give donor position or financial incentive to any government employee.
“Yet in the past there were examples where people already in government service were kept on donor-based positions,” he said, adding that this trend is ‘elite culture’ of well-connected individuals, who keep their permanent job positions reserved, but also get donor-based contractual jobs, leaving little space for jobless highly qualified individuals.
Dr Khan said HSA has taken this step to select on merit, deserving highly qualified individuals who are jobless and willing to serve the country and stressed the need for institutions of higher learning in Pakistan to avoid giving extra favours to a few blue-eyed individuals.
“I recommend hiring newly-qualified, energetic and young professionals on the jobs. This will not only improve the performance of institutes of higher education but also create more jobs for the highly qualified persons of the country,” he added.
When approached, PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Faisal Sultan made it clear that government employees do not get any additional salary from any donor as per law. “The staff paid by any donor agency are not government employees and help the ministries in filling capacity gaps, where required,” he said, adding that action would be initiated if anybody was found involved in the illegal practice of drawing double salaries, perks and privileges.
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