ISLAMABAD: A wide gulf in terms of salaries and perks and privileges for various government departments has sparked grave anxiety among those state employees who feel they are treated with sheer discrimination.
Statistics suggest a vast disparity between salaries and incentives for employees of the departments working under the federal government, which is termed astonishing. This could not only have adverse implications for the performance of certain government departments, but it may also trigger socio-economic problems.
The federal government over the years has been increasing the salaries and perks and privileges of staff of certain departments, but at the same time, others continue to remain neglected with only a nominal pay raise.
The most privileged ones are working in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, President House, Prime Minister Secretariat, Benazir Income Support Programme, Federal Board of Revenue, National Accountability Bureau, National Highway Authority (NHA), Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) and others.
The salaries and allowances for staff of these departments are 50-300% higher than employees of other departments, particularly those that are working in the federal secretariat.
The least-paid employees are working in 42 federal ministries including the Finance Division that is responsible for preparing the budget for all federal departments.
Other low-paid departments and ministries include the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Planning Commission, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, Ministry of Water and Power, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Ministry of Food Security and Research, Ministry of Housing and Works, Cabinet Division, etc.
The highest-paid employees belong to the Supreme Court, High Court, Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, Federal Shariat Court and Federal Judicial Academy that are getting at least 300% higher pay than staff of the federal secretariat.
Likewise, staff of the President Secretariat and Prime Minister Secretariat is receiving 115% higher salaries than the federal secretariat employees.
The prime minister’s personal staff is also getting 115% higher pay whereas employees of the Federal Investigation Agency, NHA, National Motorway Police and Intelligence Bureau have 100% higher salaries.
The situation is no different for the regulatory bodies including Nepra, Ogra and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) where employees are receiving 150% more pay.
Not only this, there is also disparity within different departments of the same ministry.
For instance, the TCP, which works under the Ministry of Commerce, gives 150% more pay than that for staff of the ministry itself.
Owing to the attractive packages for these state institutions, officers in other departments, including the efficient ones, make every effort to switch jobs and find a better place at all cost. This not only leads to ethical and social challenges, but also affects the performance of staff in the less-privileged departments.
Officers of institutions like the Press Information Department are seeking to get deputed in other institutions or foreign missions to improve their lives.
These efforts bear fruit for those officers that have strong influence and connections, who manage to get deputed in attractive institutions. However, those who have no strong backing are left frustrated.
It seems a race is going on in Islamabad to join one of the attractive departments and for the purpose the officers adopt both ethical and unethical ways including giving bribe and avoiding merit.
Economists argue that there is no question of giving some employees such high salaries while ignoring the others. They believe a balance should be created between salaries and perks and privileges of the government employees of varying departments.
Otherwise, the gulf will widen and it will further fuel frustration among the low-paid employees, who will be forced to resort to unfair means to meet their needs.
The writer is a staff correspondent
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2016.