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ISLAMABAD: In a major policy shift, the Federal Government has reportedly decided to allow civil servants to compete for MP scales for a maximum of five years during their entire service without resigning from government service, well-informed sources told Business Recorder. Ministries have also been allowed to hire consultants/experts to perform any “specific task" for a period up to "six months" and a maximum cost up to Rs 6 million on a contract basis, the sources added. Sharing the details, sources said Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives briefed the Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms (CCIR) headed by Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training about proposed amendments in the Cabinet's Resolution No.4-6/2006-Min-I, of October 30, 2013, being the governing document of the Planning Commission. It was noted that amendments were being proposed to harmonize this resolution with Revised Management Pay Scales Policy, 2020 and the Establishment Division had endorsed it. During the ensuing discussion, the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms & Austerity, Dr Ishrat Hussain, emphasized that the appointment of government servants through deputation against the MP Scale positions would be a deviation from the approved policy which prescribes that a government servant, if selected against an MP position, shall have to resign or seek retirement.

The Establishment Division stated that the policy needs to be suitably amended in order to encourage capable and qualified civil servants, who may be interested to compete for such positions through open and transparent selection process. It was also apprehended that the selection of Civil Servants on deputation against MP positions could lead to discrimination creating resentment among Civil Servants due to huge difference in Government Pay Scales and remunerations of MP Scales.

There was also concern about the probability of likes and dislikes specially in case of selection of civil servants. The Establishment Division clarified that this aspect could be addressed by introducing tenure of five years deputation i.e. 3+2 only once in the whole service career. The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms & Austerity endorsed the idea of Establishment Division of suitable amendment in MP Policy on the condition that selection would be made through an open and transparent competitive process only.

The Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission argued that the hiring process of Consultants was time consuming. Therefore, Ministries/Divisions should be empowered to hire Consultants on contract for short-term assignments up to six months period, etc. The Secretary, Establishment Division stated that the provision was already available to the Ministries/Divisions in the regular budget under delegation of powers. The forum agreed with the opinion and observed that detailed guidelines along with standard terms and conditions on hiring against short-term assignments could also be prepared to be followed by the Ministries/Divisions in order to streamline and standardize such appointments as and where required. The Committee was further informed that currently the civil servants can work in international agencies on deputation basis but are not eligible for MP Scale positions under the policy until they resign from the service. Resultantly, the best of the civil servants opt for deputation to international agencies such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations (UN).

In order to attract them to work within the government, the committee agreed to allow the Civil Servants to compete for MP Scale positions without resigning. Hence, the Establishment Division shall appropriately amend the MP Scales Policy to allow selection, on deputation, of civil servants against MP position(s), while remaining in-service, for a maximum period of five years i.e. (3+1+1) only once in their career subject to the condition they must compete and get selected through an open and transparent selection process. The sources maintained that there is a severe shortage of HR in all Ministries/Divisions specially to handle complex issues. In case of any specific requirement, the Ministries/Divisions usually request donor agencies for HR support in spite of the fact that sufficient funds are generally available as savings against salaries of vacant posts. The main hurdle in this regard is difficult selection process. Therefore, the CCIR decided that all Ministries/Divisions will be allowed to hire services of consultants/ experts to perform any" specific task" for a period up to "six months" and maximum cost up to Rs. 6 million on contract basis through simplified hiring process of advertisement on the website of concerned Ministries/Division for two weeks and selection of expert/consultant from the three CVs, as being followed by Government of the Punjab. In this regard, the Establishment Division, in consultation with Finance Division, shall prepare and notify detailed procedures along with terms and conditions which must be simple to facilitate the Ministries/ Divisions to fill capacity gaps.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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