The Establishment Division has launched an internal inquiry after allegations surfaced that 500 “ghost” employees had been on the payroll of the People’s Works Programme, sources in the Establishment Division told The Express Tribune on Friday.
The People’s Works Programme was inaugurated in 1993 with hundreds of employees taken on board. However, soon after the removal of then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s government in 1998, the incumbent Nawaz Sharif government relinquished the employees from their duties.
The Establishment Division recently reinstated some 500 sacked employees under the Sacked Employees Reinstatement Act 2010 with a majority of the reinstated employees belonging to Sindh and Balochistan. Some 54 officers were reinstated to Grades 17 and 18 while the remaining employees were brought back into Grades 1-16. The employees were put on a regular roll with attendance based emoluments.
However, none of the reinstated employees were assigned any posts and were being paid despite having zero attendance. It is believed that political forces lobbied for the Establishment Division to pay arrears of three years to these employees, excluding their monthly salaries. The Establishment Division, however, refused to pay the arrears in a lump-sum but agreed to pay them in three installments.
The release of the first installment was signed by the secretary establishment division himself. However, the remaining two installments were released without his consent. Hundreds of these employees received their arrears after bribes were paid to officials or through political influence, sources told The Express Tribune. Several employees, however, never received a single rupee due to a lack of political backing and a refusal to bribe officials.
The secretary establishment division has ordered a halt on the payment of arrears to these employees after the scam became public. Furthermore, he removed three officers of the Establishment Division, including Deputy Secretary Service Review Board Umar Farooq, Section Officer (Cash) Ameer Abbas and Cashier Ghulam Rasul.
An inquiry headed by Joint Secretary Career Planning Akhtar Nazir Warraich has been launched into the scam. It is believed that an unnamed joint secretary and a section officer are suspected of leading the scam, sources told The Express Tribune.
An employee of the Auditor General of Pakistan Revenue, Tabassum, is also under investigation for allegedly being the lynchpin in disbursement paying salaries and arrears to the 500 reinstated employees.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2011.