Delayed proceedings: Pandemic impedes govt recruitment in Punjab

PPSC upgrades system to increase efficiency and bring operations up to pace as conditions improve


KHALID RASHEED August 24, 2021

LAHORE:

In Punjab, recruitments for key posts of government offices are made by Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

The institution supplies provincial workforce to almost every government department. However, the pandemic’s advent and the resulting lockdowns have thrown a spanner in the works of most if not all government bodies, also affecting PPSC despite the department’s various efforts to stay on agenda.

As a result of which, the province is now experiencing delayed recruitment of government officers on various levels, appointed through public service commission.

Conducting Provincial Management Service (PMS) examinations for the selection of suitable candidates, is among the foremost responsibilities of the PPSC.

For the Combined Competitive Examination (CCE) 2020, 31,181 applications were received against 71 posts. A total of 8,199 candidates appeared in the written part of CCE 2020 from which 619 qualified for the interview.

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Exams were however delayed by the commission due to several lockdowns and the recruitment process could not be completed for these posts. After much back and forth, interviews are now reportedly being conducted as per government orders with strict implementation of SOPs, while the process is chalked for completion by next month.

Growing applicants

Last year, the commission received a record number of applications as compared to previous years and efforts were made to conduct all the examinations keeping a high regard for precautionary SOPs.

According to government documents available with The Express Tribune, the commission has undertaken recruitment for a total of 36,425 vacancies in various departments of the provincial government in the last three years and recommended 29,208 candidates for government service.

Yet, like all private and public organisations, the recruitment process in the commission was also slowed down and government departments sent a lower number of requisitions for appointments through the commission during 2020.

All things considered, the commission processed recruitment for a total of 7,589 vacant posts last year, which were 9,406 in 2019 and 19,430 in 2018. On average, the commission received 55 applications per vacancy in the year 2020, which was much higher than the 51 and 25 applications received during 2018 and 2019 respectively.

System upgrades

espite the hurdles created by the pandemic, PPSC is reported to have made significant upgrades to its system the past year, in a bid to bring operations up to pace and cover lost time. The first of which is an online interview system to facilitate a large number of candidates from distant regions.

In regard to which, PPSC regional offices in Rawalpindi and Multan have been connected to the headquarters in Lahore through fiber optics for better connectivity for online interviews.

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According to the government documents, so far, over 1,480 candidates have been interviewed online through the new video link service during the year 2020.

The commission now intends to extend the facility to other regional offices upon availability of required resources, informed a source privy to the development.

In pursuits of expanding its scope through technology, the Punjab Public Service Commission has also launched an SMS management system to keep the candidates informed of every step from application to results.

In this regard, Secretary Punjab Public Service Commission Nawaz Khalid Arabi said that Chairperson Punjab Public Service Commission and all other members have done a great job during the pandemic.

“On the recommendations of the Punjab Public Service Commission, the government has already banned the appointment of officers on contract basis, which has led to a slowed system for many years. However, the backlog of recruitment in various departments will be removed by the end of this year,” the secretary informed The Express Tribune.

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