ISLAMABAD: Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training and head of Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms Shafqat Mahmood on Wednesday said the government has announced various reforms to the civil services of Pakistan to improve performance of government employees and departments. Addressing a press conference, the minister said among other factors to improve the system of governance, one is to bring reform of the civil services.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had a personal interest in the reforms and contributed to them along with the help of his office.
He said civil service reforms have been fragmented into six areas: Civil Servants Promotion (BS-18 to BS-21) Rules, 2019, Civil Servants (Directory Retirement from Service) Rules, 2020, Efficiency and Discipline Rules, 2020, Revised MP Scale Policy, 2020, Rotation Policy, 2020, Rationalisation of cadre strength — induction in PAS.
Mahmood said a major problem in promotions in the civil service was clarity of appointing authority.
He said the government has categorically defined the appointing authority leaving behind no ambiguity.
Second, he said, officers who had any pending investigations for references in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) or the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would not be promoted, and their promotion would instead be deferred until the inquiry against them was concluded.
However, he said, promotion boards will be allowed to consider the promotions of those officers who had not been promoted due to pending cases against them for three or more years.
Another issue, which Mahmood highlighted, was about the evaluation reports. He said there is a tradition that everyone gets a good evaluation report. So it becomes difficult to evaluate employees. Thus, the weightage for different aspects have been changed to make the reports more realistic.
Annual performance reports to have 40 per cent weightage. Training reports of officers to have 30pc weightage. Whereas, interview of the evaluation board to have 30pc weightage.
Mahmood said the evaluation boards were given more power and authority to aid in the evaluation of officers and respond to the problem of inaccurate reports.
Furthermore, to ensure transparency, the reasons for deferral will also be conveyed to the concerned officers, he added.
Mahmood also addressed the issue of directed retirements including the mechanism to retire a civil servant before their tenure ends.
He said it had been defined now, who held the authority to retire civil servants.
According to the federal minister, the chairman of the Federal Public Service Commission would have the authority to direct retirements for grades BS-20 and above, the secretary for grades BS-17 to BS-19, and the senior joint secretary for grades BS-16 and below.
The policy has also been drafted for individuals who enjoy the perks and privileges without doing work, which is that grounds for their retirement will be possible in the following cases:
Three annual reports of average or below-average performance.
Officers who reach grade BS-21 but are passed over for promotion three times by the promotion board and not found worthwhile for promotion.
Officers who claim plea bargains and voluntarily return money in corruption references against them. Deficiency and weakness of character.
He said the individuals who did not work or exhibited other faults would be "sifted" through scrutinising records and looking at their performance.
The minister said that a number of changes were introduced in the efficiency and discipline rules which define a government job to employees. He said a time limitation was decided and a timeline was provided.
"In 105 days, everything will be wrapped up from the start of inquiry to the final decision."
Response to submission of charges against an individual in 14 days. Decision of the inquiry committee to come within 60 days. Authority or presiding officer to give verdict on punishment in 30 days.
He also said disciplinary action will be initiated against individuals who enter plea bargains or voluntarily return money.
Regarding the mechanism of recruitment, he said advertisements have now been allowed to recruit individuals for MP scales and they can be recruited from elsewhere or particularly searched for.
The time period in MP scale has been increased from two to three years and a committee has been made which can extend it beyond three years, said the minister.
The minister said another major problem was that officers of the two services which are allowed to work in both the Centre and the provinces, the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) and Pakistan Police Service, opted to work 10 or 15 years in the provinces and few worked in the Centre.
He said a new policy was designed in which rotation had now been linked with promotion.
"If an officer doesn't rotate and remains in one province, then they can't be promoted into grade BS-21 and this policy has been brought into effect from Jan 1, 2021," he announced.
Any officer cannot stay beyond 10 years in any province; once 10 years are complete they'll be transferred, Mahmood said, adding that it will be a mandatory requirement to work in the Centre.
The minister further said a decision was taken to reduce the strength of the PAS, so other services might also get a chance of increasing jobs and enhancing their strength.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021