ISLAMABAD: The US President Barack Obama runs his office with the help of 472 staff members while Indian prime minister, who rules a country with a population six times the size of Pakistan’s, has a staff of 403 employees; however, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office employs 730 people.
The parliament’s lower house was informed of this on Monday in a written reply submitted by the government. However, the reply did not mention details about salaries, job titles, and other allied benefits the PM Office employees have been receiving.
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According to the budget document for fiscal year 2016-17, the taxpayers will spend Rs881.6 million during the ongoing financial year to pay off salaries, allowances, grants and operating and other allied expenses of the office staff.
The Prime Minister’s Office comprises PM’s Office (Public) and PM’s Office (Internal).
The PM’s public office has strength of 242 officials, while some 488 officials deal with internal affairs. The public office is headed by the secretary to the PM, while internal side is headed by the PM’s military secretary. Both the offices have separate budget allocations and run their affairs independently.
Interestingly, this is the situation after adopting the so-called austerity measures. Soon after assuming office in June 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced he will reduce his office staff and a number of employees were put in the surplus pool of the Establishment Division.
The bureaucracy serving this prestigious office also does not bother to put on the official website details of the employees, their designations and salaries, etc.
White House’s official website says, “Since 1995, the White House has been required to deliver a report to Congress listing the title and salary of every White House Office employee.”
2016 Report to Congress on White House Staff – available on the website with the aim to ensure transparency – lists the names, status, title, salaries of all 472 employees.
In South Asia, neighbouring India has been following the practice of sharing details of the PM house employees for years and in more detail than that available on White House website.
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Indian PM Office website not only mentions names, salaries and designations but also the basic pay, transport allowance, house rent and other related details of all 403 employees, from Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to dispatch riders and drivers associated with the office.
However, on Monday the government provided limited information regarding strength of the PM Office employees to the National Assembly in response to a question posed by the ruling party’s Khalida Mansoor.
The PM’s Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad, however, expressed doubt over the figure [730 employees] provided and termed it ‘false’.
“To my information, the PM Office is working with a very small number of staff,” he claimed.
Fawad refused to further comment saying he could only provide exact information after going through files.
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and the PM’s spokesman Dr Mussadiq Malik were also contacted for comments on the issue but they did not respond to the calls.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2016.