ISLAMABAD: A recent decision by the federal government to adopt an older assistance package for families of government servants who die during service has sent a wave of distress among a number of families awaiting the implementation of the Prime Minister’s Special Assistance Package announced last year.
The Establishment Division has directed ministries and departments to adopt the assistance package announced in 2006, as the one announced by the prime minister on October 20 last year has been held in abeyance since February 9, just four months into its implementation. The reason behind the decision to withhold the new policy is attributed to the financial burden the extended financial assistance offered under the package will incur.
Following this directive, several departments have initiated dealing with death-related cases under the 2006 policy, which does not ensure — in terms of monetary benefits to the deceased’s family — as much social security as the 2014 package guarantees.
In a notification, the Cabinet Division said it has been receiving multiple queries from various departments asking which package to follow when processing cases.
“Since the PM’s Assistance Package dated October 20, 2014, has been held in abeyance, therefore, all cases are to be dealt under previous package announced on June 13, 2006,” an official from the Cabinet Division said.
Lump Sum Grant
Under the policy now held in abeyance, the families of grade 1 to 16 officers were to receive a grant of Rs2.5 million, and up to Rs3 million in case of security related deaths. The previous policy provides for a grant of Rs0.2 million for grade 1 to 4, Rs0.3 million for grade 4 to 10, and Rs0.4 million for grade 11 to 15.
The 2014 package guarantees full pay, allowances and benefits to the families till the date of superannuation of the deceased, including increments and any other ad-hoc relief. The 2006 policy entitles the deceased’s spouse to 75 per cent of the pension amount until the youngest child of the family reaches the age of 18, after which normal pension applies.
The new package ensures free education to all children of the deceased up to higher school level, including expenses for tuition, books and related material, as well as living allowances. Under the previous policy only one child of the deceased would get free education which ends once the child reaches the age of 18.
The 2014 policy states that the widow or widower, and one son or daughter will be given employment in basic scale 1 to 15. Under the 2006 policy, employment of one son or daughter is given on a two-year contract.
Similarly, the 2014 package covers expenses such as marriage grants, provident fund, monthly benevolent grants, accommodation and health coverage. These benefits are either missing or insufficient under the 2006 policy.
An official of the Cabinet Division said several departments were not processing cases of their deceased employees under the old package, hoping to benefit the families under the new policy. “After this new directive, the departments have started processing cases under the old package,” the official added.
In a question-hour session of the National Assembly last week, the house was informed through a written reply that a committee had been formed to re-examine and possibly re-adjust the 2014 assistance package which will be finalized soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2015.