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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet has reportedly decided to review structure and strength of Civil Armed Forces as part of restructuring exercise on the growing size of the Federal Government, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

However, the Cabinet has reviewed its earlier decision regarding abolishment of 70,000 posts lying vacant for a year or more after a hue and cry by the Cabinet members and decided that only recruitment on posts lying vacant for more than a year should be banned.

The Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms (CCIR) informed the Cabinet on April 20, 2021 that General Headquarters (GHQ) strength is second in top ten largest attached departments, after Pakistan Railways.

Sharing details, sources said Cabinet Division solicited ratification by the Cabinet of the decision taken by the CCIR on March 18, 2021 and functional classification of government employees, in terms of rule 17(1) (a) (c) of the Rules of Business, 1973.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, briefed the Cabinet on the size, growth and functions of the federal government.

In respect to agenda item titled "functional classification of Federal Government Employees," he briefed the Cabinet that the Federal Government (Secretariat and attached departments) had a total strength of 565,000 in 2019-2020 of which 13,000 were in the Secretariat, 8,000 in Constitutional Bodies and 544,000 in attached departments. In addition, 390,000 were working in autonomous, semi-autonomous bodies, corporations, etc.

According to CCIR, 95% of the Federal Government employees belong to grades 1-16 or staff position, salaries and allowances paid to these employees account for 80 to 85 % of the total wage bill of the Federal Government. The ratio of officers to staff has remained unchanged at 1:20. In Secretariat, the ratio is 1:6 with 50% of the staff position occupied by posts such as Qasid, Chowkidar, sweeper, mali, drivers, dispatch riders, etc. Federal Secretariat itself has 4,718 such staff that constitutes 38% of the total Secretariat employees.

In Federal Secretariat’s total number for officers in BS-17-22 and staff in BS 1-16 is 132,000 of which officers are 23,000 and staff 108,000. In constitutional bodies, the total number of staff is 82,000 of which 15,000 are officers whereas strength of staff is 67,000. The number of employees in attached departments is 543,600, of which the strength of officers is 226,000 and staff’s 521,000. The total number of federal government employees is 5,651,000.

The cabinet was further informed that of total strength of employees in federal government is as follows: 4.7 per cent are officers while 95.3 per cent are employees from BS 1-16. In autonomous bodies, total strength is 3,893,000, of which officers of BS 17-22 are 631,000 whereas employees are 3,261,000. Of this, the total strength of officers is 16.2 per cent whereas employees are 83.8 per cent.

The total number of the federal government employees is 9,544,000 of which officers’ strength is 896,000 (9.4 per cent) whereas employees are 8,647,000 (90.6 per cent).

In 2010-11, the total number of federal employees was 829,000 and this strength remained largely steady until 2016-17 when a sudden jump of 137,000 new entrants took place, raising the total number to 966,000. Most of the new recruits 116,000 (85%) took place in the Federal Government (Secretariat and attached departments) while the increase in the Autonomous Bodies was 21,000.

The present Government has for the first time in the decade, reduced the strength by 27,000 (approx.) in 2019-20.

The functions of employees are as follows: (i) 35 per cent are related to security, law and order, civilian armed forces; (ii) 20 per cent infrastructure services (Railway, Postal Services, Aviation , Highways); (iii) 18 per cent energy sector (power, oil and gas); (iv) 5 per cent social sector (health, education and social protection); (v) 5 per cent commercial and taxation; and (vi) 12 per cent training and research, regulatory, judicial etc.

He maintained that three fourths of federal employees were thus employed in security and infrastructure services including energy.

Top ten largest attached departments along with employees strength are as follows: (i) Railways, 61,851- officers BS-17-22, 473 employees (from BS 1-16, 61,378); (ii) GHQ, 42,500 (officers 204, employees 42,296); (iii) FC, KP(N) 40,128 (officers, 204, employees 40,128); (iv)FC B(N) 37,459 (officers 290, employees 37,459) ;(v) FC (S) KP, 33,326 (officers 12, employees 33,314); (vi) PAF 33,087 (officers 29, employees 33,058); (vii) FC KP 27,009 (officers 61, employees 26,948) ;(viii) Sindh Rangers, 26,167 (officers 509, employees 25,658); (ix) FC Turbat, 26,141

(officers 179, employees 25,962; (x) PPO, 23,582 (officers 292, employees 23,290).

Total strength of ten largest departments is 351,250, of which 2,623 are officers of BS 17-22 whereas strength of employees of BS 1-16 is 348,627.

The strength of manpower of top ten largest autonomous bodies is 389,297, of which officers of BS 17-22 are 26,747 and employees BS 1-16 are 231,547. The details are as follows; (i) Pepco/Discos 133,563 (officers 5034, employees, 128,528); (ii) POF (Wah) 22,011 (officers 449, employees 21,562); (iii) Wapda 18,018 (officers 1,856, employees, 16,162); (iv) NBP 15,003 (officers 9262, employee 5741); (v) Capital Development Authority (CDA), 13, 963 (officers 714, employees 13,249); (vi) Utility Stores 12,842 (officers 105, employees, 12, 737); (vii) PIA, 12,048 (officers 3697, employees 8351); (viii) OGDCL 11,924 (officers 2,353, employees 9,571); (ix) Pakistan Steel Mills, 9,606 (officers 2628, employees 6,978) and; (x) Nadra, 9,316 (officers 649, employees 8,667).

The Human Resource restructuring plan is underway through which staff strength will be brought down to 7,000.

The Committee on Restructuring in Rightsizing of the Federal Ministries/Divisions recommended the rationalization of officer to staff ratio of 1:3 in April, 2001. However, this ratio has not been followed systematically as is evident from the data. The average ratio has been 1:4. Eleven Divisions have the ratio of 1:6 or more and seven Divisions have ratios below 1:3. In view of the E-filing and E-Office suite becoming mandatory in the Federal Secretariat, this ratio of 1:3 has to be enforced.

The impact of re-organizing the Federal Government approved by the Cabinet in July 2019 can be assessed by comparing the total employee strength in 2019-20 relative to 2018-19. There has been a decrease of 26,641 in the Federal Government and Autonomous Bodies in 2019-20. In terms of the budgetary savings, the pay and allowances of Civil Administration of the Federal Government shows a decrease of Rs. 4 billion in 2019-2020 in nominal terms and a much large saving of Rs. 28 billion in real terms. The savings of the Autonomous Bodies and the corporations could not be ascertained.

The CCIR concluded that the strength and structure of the civilian armed forces may be reviewed. Heavy concentration of the support staff may be reviewed and Divisions may be advised to bring this ratio to 1:3.

The decision of the Cabinet Committee on Implementation for abolishing 71,000 posts lying vacant for a year or more may be ratified and this exercise maybe repeated every year at the time of the budget formulation.

During a discussion, the growing size of the federal government was highlighted. The cost of federal bureaucracy, it was pointed out, had risen from Rs. 175 billion in 2010 to around Rs. 500 billion, despite the fact that after 18th Amendment most of the subjects had been devolved to provinces. The decision of CCIR to freeze recruitment in BS 1-16 except essential services was objected by several members and the consensus was that only recruitment on posts lying vacant for more than a year should be banned.

The Prime Minister highlighted the dire need of imparting training to police personnel on mob control. He cited the example of Turkey where a specially trained 'Riot Police' effectively responds to mob situations.

The Cabinet also ratified the decision of CCIR in the case titled "functional classification of federal government employees" except the part regarding the freezing of recruitments in BS 1-16. The Cabinet directed Interior Division to arrange training of the police personnel on riot and mob control and brief the Cabinet on the progress.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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