Health Dept fires 200 contract employees

Department to save Rs1.5m a month after abolishing 6 management units.

Abdul Manan February 18, 2011

LAHORE: The Health Department has abolished six of its eight project management units (PMUs) and removed some 200 contractual employees, sources in the department told The Express Tribune.

The decision was made at an internal review of the annual development programme a few days ago, the sources said. The six units had a monthly budget of Rs2.5 million, but were spending about Rs1.5 million a month because some posts were vacant. By sacking the 200 contract employees working in the six PMUs, the department expects to save that money.

The sources said that the department had not yet decided whether the schemes supervised by the abolished PMUs would now be managed by the directorate office, secretary’s office or by the executive district officer concerned.

The sources said that most of these contractual employees were computer operators, assistants and clerical staff paid between Rs8,000 and Rs10,000 per month. They said that the government had spent Rs3 billion so far on these abolished PMUs.

There is sympathy in the department for the sacked workers. Many officials said the department could have saved that money by instead removing the project directors from the remaining PMUs, who were drawing large salaries. They said the department was keen to show the chief minister its savings. Some of the fired staff have been asking Health Department to accommodate them in another wing of the department, but have been refused.

PMUs were established to ensure timely completion of projects partially or fully funded by foreign donors. The six PMUs that were abolished were for the expansion by 150 beds of the Children’s Hospital Complex, Multan; construction of phase two of the Shaikh Zayed Medical Complex, RY Khan; establishment of the Fatima Jinnah Institute of Dental Sciences, Jubilee Town, Lahore; establishment of the Fatima Jinnah Burn and Reconstructive Surgery Centre; establishment of the Wazirabad Institute of Cardiology Centre; and establishment of the Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology.

The two PMUs still functional are for the Enhanced HIV/AIDS Control Programme and the Punjab Health Sector Reform Programme (HSRP). The project director of the HSRP is a District Management Group (DMG) official drawing an allowance of Rs150,000 per month; its deputy director-level staff, who are in a majority, are DMG officers getting Rs50,000 per month in allowances besides their salaries.

The HSRP was approved in 2006 and estimated to cost Rs 183 million. The project was allocated Rs40 million for fiscal year 2010-2011, and Rs142 million for the salaries of employees of the PMUs. The programme was supposed to be completed in 2009 but the Health Department has twice granted it one-year extensions.

The AIDS control programme is funded by the World Bank and was approved in 2008 and estimated to cost Rs2,881 million. Its major targets are to deliver services to 16,000 intravenous drug users, 14,000 female sex workers and 7,000 jail inmates.

The Multan Children’s Hospital Complex project was approved in 2008 with an estimated cost of Rs1,367 million; the Shaikh Zayed project in 2007, 2008 and 2009 with total estimated cost of Rs4,990 million; the Fatima Jinnah dentistry school project was estimated to cost Rs3,448 million; the burn centre was approved in 2004, 2006 and in 2009 with an estimated cost of Rs1,223 million; the Wazirabad project in 2006 with an estimated cost of Rs1,500 million; and the Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology in 2008 with an estimated cost of Rs1,705 million.

The health secretary was not available for comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2011.


Riaz Javed | 12 years ago | Reply Very informative news item
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