In a move to appease the highest bureaucracy in the country, the finance ministry has awarded a special 20% relief allowance to all grade-22 officers from the new fiscal year.
The move will result in a 40% total increase in the salaries of these officials and is likely to earn much criticism as the rest of the employees are only to get a 20% pay raise from July 1.
Earlier, the 20% special pay allowance was only awarded to those grade-22 officers who were serving as federal secretaries. But to end what a top official in the Accountant General of Pakistan termed “discrimination”, the stipend was extended to all grade-22 officers.
“It is very unfortunate that grade-22 officers, who are the highest paid employees, get a special allowance in the name of relief,” said a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Yasmeen Rehman. In another move which will further displease lower-ranking civil servants, the ministry turned down proposals to increase the medical allowance of grade-1 to grade-15 employees. It also refused to extend utility allowance to all employees; it is currently given only to those serving in the presidency and the prime minister’s secretariat.
“The finance ministry is only taking care of the privileged class. When it comes to lower ranking employees, it suddenly starts talking about austerity measures and budgetary constraints,” said the General Secretary of Federal Secretariat Employees Coordination Council Syed Farrukh.
Farrukh added that grade-1 to 15 officers were getting a monthly medical allowance of Rs1,000 and the ministry rejected their demands to increase it to Rs5,000. It also refused to provide health insurance in exchange for forgoing medical allowances though the move would have only presented a minimal additional cost.
The increase in transport/conveyance allowances is also a reflection of this disparity. Grade-20 to 22 officers not only enjoy an allowance of Rs68,000 to Rs96,000, but also have a number of official vehicles at their disposal.
Despite repeated attempts, finance ministry officials could not be reached for comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2012.
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