Govt forms panel for review of pay, pension

Ex-finance secretary Wajid Rana to head commission; no deadline fixed for recommendations

Shahbaz Rana April 18, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The federal government has constituted a Pay and Pension Commission to evaluate salary structures of the employees of the federal and provincial governments as well as the armed forces with a view to bringing some uniformity and review the need for further increase.

But it seems that the commission will not be able to finish its work before the next year’s budget, as the government has not fixed any deadline the task. The terms of reference (ToRs) are also broad that may extend the work of the commission to months, if not a year.

The six-member commission will be headed by former finance secretary Abdul Wajid Rana. There is no equal representation of all the provinces despite its wide scope as almost all the members of the commission belong to Sindh.

The members are: Nazar Hussain Mahar, a retired bureaucrat, Dr Noor Alam, also a retired civil servant, Seema Kamil, President United Bank Limited, Zubyr Soomro, Chairman National Bank of Pakistan and Nausheen Ahmad, ICI Pakistan Limited.

The government has setup the commission at a time when it is under increasing pressure to increase the salaries by at least 100-150% and end discrimination in pays of various federal and provincial government departments.

The scope of the commission would include federal and provincial civil servants, other government servants, civilians paid from defence budget, all armed forces, civil armed forces and all employees of the public sector enterprises.

The federal government’s pay structure has not remained lucrative after two provincial governments approved additional allowances of up to 150%. The federal government also gave special allowances to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that created unease among the employees of the Pakistan Secretariat –the seat of federal bureaucracy.

The commission will study the adequacy of existing basic pay scale (BPS) system and evaluate the current salaries and recommend measures for uniformity. The commission is also empowered to make recommendations for the streamlining of the exiting classification from BPS 1 to 22.

The commission will also study the separation of existing BPS for specialised departments, occupations and cadres and review special scales such as management cadres, management position scales, project pay scales and propose measures for uniformity and improvement.

It will review admissible regular allowances, special incentives and all other allowances with a view to highlighting the prevalent distortions and recommend corrective measures.

The federal government has recently claimed that provinces have bypassed it in revising the pay and salary packages of their secretariat employees, which is unprecedented and against the norms.

The federal secretariat employees had been staging protests for several days for the revision of their pay packages to bring them at par with the provincial secretariat employees, which became an embarrassment for the federal government.

The difference in salaries had not just been stoking discontentment among the federal secretariat employees but was also the reason behind the federal government losing capable officers to the provincial governments.

Some of the cabinet members have highlighted the parallel salary structures within the federal government, which they say, is discontentment to among the already disgruntled employees.

The Secretaries Committee has recently recommended a 120% increase in salaries of all employees. However, it is not for the first time that a commission has been set up for the review of the salary structure. Similar attempts were made during Gen Pervez Musharraf’s era, PPP and PML-N governments.

The new commission will also review the pension system. The commission will highlight the existing distortions and anomalies in the pension scheme and recommend remedial measures, according to the terms of references.

The commission is empowered to review the existing incentive regime and recommend improvement in it. It can make interim recommendations, if desired by the government.