The Punjab government has decided to bring back the assistant commissioner (AC) (BPS-17) through an amendment in the local government law. As many as 17 bills will be tabled in the session of the Punjab Assembly starting on March 11.
In a meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, the cabinet approved drafts of 17 amendment bills regarding the Punjab Government Rules of Business-2011 and running of the affairs of the Local Government, Information, Culture & Youth Affairs, Revenue, Labour, Health, Law and Social Welfare departments, recently transferred to the provinces in the wake of the 18th constitutional amendment.
General Pervez Musharraf had curtailed the magisterial powers of the ACs in 2001 and re-introduced the post with the new moniker of deputy district officer (DDO) (Revenue). Earlier, ACs had also been the collector in the tehsil where they exercised all revenue powers as well as need of administration. The DDO (Revenue) only enjoyed revenue powers and was not responsible for law and order.
Shahbaz Sharif in 2009 had re-introduced the slot of commissioner by amending the Land Revenue Act. However, after the 18th amendment, local government had become a provincial chapter and the CM has again introduced ACs instead of DDO (Revenue). A few months ago, the CM had abolished 560 different posts including the DDOs (Revenue). The chief minister also issued instructions for setting up a cabinet committee for the strict implementation of minimum wages law in the light of the orders of the Supreme Court.
It was decided that provincial secretaries will pay regular visits to districts in order to solve people’s problems besides improving the efficiency of their departments along with monitoring the performance of their officers.
Expressing his displeasure over the performance of executive district officers for education and health, the CM said that an army of such officers had failed to bring improvement in these sectors. He said the failure to start classes was proof of the unsatisfactory performance of these officers in spite of the availability of teachers and school buildings.
He said that ministers, advisors and secretaries had been assigned the responsibility to monitor arrangements at examination centres for matriculation examinations and he will also visit these centres for this purpose.
The CM further said that implementation of the law regarding minimum wages was a responsibility of the government and a cabinet committee headed by Senior Advisor Sirdar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa was being set up which will soon present its recommendations on this. The chief minister congratulated the cabinet committee set up for the amendment in the rules of various departments in the wake of the 18th amendment for completing the job.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2011.