Numbered days: Govt hastens to give permanent jobs to contractual workers

Speaker refuses to allow opposition time to go over the bill despite their demands.


Hafeez Tunio March 14, 2013
File photo of the Sindh Assembly. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

KARACHI:


With only two days left until the assemblies are dissolved, the Sindh lawmakers hastened to pass two bills regularising the services of all contractual employees, and those who received out-of-turn promotions.


Thursday’s session started after a two-hour delay with Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro in the chair. The bill to regularise adhoc and contractual employees was moved by Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, who said that all the employees, excluding those appointed on daily-wages and work-charge basis, would be regularised.

“There are around 100,000 employees working in all the departments including education, health, irrigation, agriculture, population, planning, home, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and the local government.”

As the minister introduced the bill, opposition leader Syed Sardar Ahmed stood up and requested the speaker to defer the bill as they have not read the law properly. “It has not mentioned how many employees and in which grade are being regularised,” he said, calling the bill “vague”.

However, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmakers stood up on their chairs in protest and demanded the legislation be passed the same day.

Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani suggested Ahmed let the assembly pass the law and promised the government will give them a chance to amend it later. Ahmed was, however, not convinced and demanded they only introduce it.



Soomro pointed out that the PPP had promised the people that their jobs will be regularised and, with only two days left in assemblies’ life, they must pass the bill. “During the times of Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif, the desperate youth came out on the streets and burnt their degrees,” he recalled. “We appointed them in this government and are going to regularise their services today.”

The opposition members who had been raising the contractual employees’ issue for some time tried to speak on the bill as well, but they were denied permission by the speaker. Later, the law minister moved the bill that was passed unanimously. A cheerful moment was witnessed in the hall where a large number of contractual employees including doctors, engineers were also witnessing the proceeding in the galleries.

Sindh Civil Servants Bill

In another controversial bill, the government regularised those employees who were earlier absorbed from one department to another and many others were given out-of-turn promotions. “Certain employees were absorbed and promoted in various departments given their competence and public interest by a competent authority [the chief minister],” said Soomro. “We are giving it a legal cover through this law.”

The opposition members responded, however, that it was a violation of merit and insisted the government discourage this practice. Many incompetent employees working in semi-government departments and companies have been absorbed in the secretariat group. “This will be an injustice to the service structure in Sindh. Please do not pass this law,” said Pakistan Muslim League - Functional’s (PML-F) Marvi Rashid.



Referring to the chief minister’s budget speech on the government’s commitment to merit, National Peoples Party’s Arif Mustaf Jatoi pointed out that this law is in contradiction with those statements. Defending the bill, Soomro warned the PML-F lawmakers that he will reveal how many of their own relatives they have hired in the government.

The assembly also passed a law to establish a tribunal to resolve disputes between famers and their landlords. Every assistant commissioner of the district would head the tribunal, said the law.

Meanwhile, a bill to protect and promote health and save people from iodine deficiency disorders was also passed. The law ensures that no salt without iodine is sold or used for human consumption in Sindh. Later, the speaker adjourned the session till Friday.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2013.

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