LAHORE: After much criticism from the opposition, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday finally handed over eight ministries to cabinet members, special assistants and advisers.
Shahbaz, who had been holding 15 portfolios, still maintains seven additional departments including health; home; chief minister inspection team; services and general administration; social welfare; special education; and mines and minerals.
According to statistics of the Punjab government, after the 18th Amendment there were 39 portfolios in the Punjab Cabinet which were being catered by only 16 ministers till March 2011. Out of the 16 ministers, nine were held by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and seven by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) ministers — under a 60 to 40 proportion as mentioned in the Charter of Democracy.
Initially, the chief minister tried to run the departments through a task force but after criticism from the opposition and media, he handed over the ministries but did not increase the number of ministers in the Cabinet.
In the last budget, the Punjab chief minister had abolished four departments out of the 39 and emerged them into different departments as part of an austerity drive.
In March 2011, after the removal of PPP’s seven ministers from the Punjab Cabinet, Shahbaz added another three departments to his portfolio, giving him a total of 15 portfolios.
Technically after the 18th Amendment, the chief minister is authorised to appoint five advisers and two special assistants with the seat of senior adviser being abolished from the Constitution.
At present, Shahbaz has a total five advisers including Senior Adviser Zulfiqar Khosa, Jehazaib Khan Burki, Zakia Shahnawaz, Raja Ishfaq Sarwar and Saeed Mehdi. He also has two special assistants Senator Perveiz Rashid and Manshaullah Butt.
Under the law, advisers and special assistants are not part of the Cabinet. Despite the fact that they cannot attend the official Cabinet meetings, Shahbaz has been inviting his advisers to these meetings.
Official in the Cabinet section said that though the advisers had been assigned portfolios, the main power remained with the chief minister himself. “The major decisions will be taken by the CM himself,” sources said.
Eight departments were devolved on Thursday and assigned to the following seven ministers:
Malik Nadeem Kamran has the portfolio of Zakat and Ushr
Provincial Minister for Excise and Taxation Department Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman has the additional charge of Transport, School Education, Literacy and NFBE and Higher Education
Human Rights and Minority Affairs Minister Kamran Michael has the additional portfolio of Women Development and Finance
Planning and Development Minister Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor has the Energy Department
Agriculture Minister Malik Ahmad Ali Aolakh has the Live Stock and Dairy, Forestry Fisheries and Wildlife, Irrigation Department, Communication and Works Department
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has the Board of Revenue, Local Government Department
Auqaf and Religious Affairs Minister Haji Ehsanuddin Qureshi has the additional Labour and Human Rights Housing and Urban Development, and Public Health Engineering Department
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2012.
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