PM steps in to heal 150% executive allowance rift

Move may end ongoing dispute over discrimination in pay packages


Shahbaz Rana December 01, 2022
PM Shehbaz Sharif at the welcoming reception by UN Secretary General for Heads of State/Government participating in the 77th session of UNGA. New York September 20, 2022. PHOTO: Twitter/ PML-N

ISLMABAD:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday took notice of the selective implementation of the federal cabinet’s decision by the Finance Ministry about the award of 150% executive allowance - in a move that may end an ongoing dispute over discrimination in pay packages.

The issue of exclusion of certain civil service groups from the purview of the executive allowance was taken up by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in the federal cabinet meeting, according to its participants.

The Foreign Service Group along with the Economist Group, Technical Group, Information Service Group and Commerce and Trade Group have been denied the 150% executive allowance in violation of the cabinet decision.

“The executive allowance will be granted to the officers working in the Federal Secretariat, President Secretariat, PM’s Office and ICT field administration in BPS-17 to BPS-22 at 1.5 times of the basic pay with effect from 1st July, 2022 in line with the allowance granted by all the provincial governments,” read the cabinet decision.

However, the finance ministry issued a tailor-made notification that mainly benefitted two service groups at the expense of others.

The Economist Group is observing a pen-down strike since Friday that is now affecting the functions of the planning ministry and to an extent also hampering the flow of critical information to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The premier has referred the 150% executive allowance issue to his secretary for finding reasons for not implementing the cabinet's decision in letter and spirit.
The Economist Group officers on Wednesday stayed away from a preparatory meeting of the flood reconstruction and rehabilitation plan, convened by the planning ministry.

The flood reconstruction plan is a prerequisite for the visit of the IMF Mission to Pakistan.

The planning ministry will share a comprehensive framework based on Resilient Recovery, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (4RFs) with the international partners next week before formally presenting it to the donor conference, which is scheduled to be held in January next year, according to a news statement issued after the meeting.

The announcement was made by Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal while chairing a meeting with donors for the implementation of 4RFs after the successful completion of Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA).

The first draft of the plan is expected to be finalised next week while the final version will be ready by mid of December, according to an official.

“Next week, the comprehensive framework will be shared with the partners so they can study it and their valuable feedback will help the ministry to proceed further,” said the minister, while urging the international partners to continue to support Pakistan in the rehabilitation phase.

Last month, the Planning Commission in collaboration with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union conducted the PDNA and called for coordinated international support.

During the meeting, the Planning Commission gave a detailed briefing to the participants while highlighting the key indicators of the framework based on “Building Back Better” to enhance the livelihoods while reducing their vulnerability.

The Planning Commission in its presentation highlighted the long-term plan comprising a 10-year plan to implement 4RFs in 17 sectors particularly in infrastructure, education and health, which would be completely based on climate resilience.

The economic affairs ministry has also engaged the donors and several meetings have taken place since the completion of the PDNA.

The planning ministry said the majority of the projects would be executed by the provinces in their relevant sectors.

The exceptions include the $10 billion ML-1 project, which would be executed by the Pakistan Railways.

The railway tracks have been badly affected by the floods.

However, these projects cannot be processed until the Economist and Technical Groups end their strikes, which they have linked with implementation of the federal cabinet’s decision in letter and spirit.

Pakistan pleaded its case in the COP27 Climate Conference recently held in Sharm El-Sheikh and urged the world to support the country despite it having a less than 1% contribution to global warming.

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