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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Government is to extend application of Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 to all classes of employment under National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (NIFT) and Pakistan Security Printing Corporation (PSPC) and Security Papers Limited Karachi to bar worker unions from stage-in strike or carrying out any other activities.

Official sources told Business Recorder that the Ministry of Finance has sought extension in the application of the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 to all classes of employment under the National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (NIFT) Pvt. Ltd with effect from February 27, 2021.

NIF has been incorporated as a company under the Companies Ordinance 1984 in 1995 as a joint venture between a consortium of six banks which includes Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB), United Bank Limited (UBL), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Allied Bank Limited (ABL) and First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) and some entrepreneurs from private sector.

The Payment System and Electronic Funds Transfers Act, 2007 was enacted by the Parliament and consequently a licence agreement was signed between NIFT and State Bank of Pakistan-Banking Services Corporation (SBP-BSC), which is a subsidiary of SBP in Karachi to provide banking clearing operation services. NIFT is key stakeholder in payment systems of Pakistan which is responsible for clearing of all paper-based instruments, including cheques, pay orders, demand drafts and telegraph transfers.

NIFT has processed 49.11 million financial instruments amounting to Rs.24.93 trillion in the first 9 months of 2017, which manifests that operations of NIFT are extremely sensitive and important for the economy and any disruption in its operations may dilute public confidence in the payment system of the country.

95% of NIFT employees are unionized staff and union leadership is said to have been consistently demanding “unreasonable” privileges/monetary benefits and “threatening” NIFT management through calls for strike if their demands were not met. On November 28, 2017, the workers union halted operations due to which work at NIFT was badly affected and countrywide clearing operations of paper-based financial instruments came to a halt.

In order to ensure uninterrupted operation of the organization, Ministry of Interior has recommended extension in application of the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 to all classes of employment under NIFT for a further period of six months with effect from 27-02-2021, under Section-3 of the said Act.

Approval of the Cabinet is solicited for extension in application of the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 to all classes of employment under the National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (NIFT) Pvt Ltd with effect from February 27, 2021.

Meanwhile, Finance Division has also requested for further extension in application of the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 to all classes of employment under the Pakistan Security Printing Corporation and Security Papers Limited, Karachi for a further period of six months with effect from February 26, 2021.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021