Promoting bureaucrats: Senate panel ‘to hammer out new policy’

ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Wednesday pledged to formulate a comprehensive policy for promoting bureaucrats, making it part of the constitution to end raging controversies once and for all.

“The entire system of promotion is arbitrary and full of flaws. In effect, this has become a nuisance for civil servants across the country,” said Farooq Naik, the convener of the Senate’s sub-committee on law and justice.

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The panel was formed to look into the Civil Servant’s Act of 1973 and lacunas in promotion cases.

Senior civil servants from the Establishment Division, the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) were in agreement with members of the committee that the formula for promotions was ‘arbitrary and discriminatory’.

Interestingly, the Establishment Division recently issued an office memorandum, outlining new policy in this regard just a week before the formation of another Central Selection Board (CSB) on January 9.

The new memorandum is a sixth such memo since 2011. The previous CSBs – held in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017– were all mired in controversy, mainly featuring allegations of promoting political loyalists.

Since 2010, the boards and their decisions have been challenged and more than 400 cases are still pending in various courts, including the Federal Services Tribunal (FST) and Supreme Court.

“Another CSB is likely to be held for promoting bureaucrats but I know it will also be mired in litigations because civil servants will object to so and so policy,” said Naik.

He wondered why the CSB should have 15 marks, adding that these marks could be included in the Performance Evaluation Reports of civil servants. “All such issues need to be dealt with in an effective manner.”

He asked Additional Secretary Establishment Division Afzal Latif about the policy for signing annual confidential reports (ACRs) and if there was any law for penalising those who delayed such reports.

Latif replied there was a policy, but he did not remember if anyone had been punished for delaying ACRs in ‘his 27-year service’.

Naik also pointed out that the policy for deputations needed to be rationalised, saying that the Supreme Court had already ordered all such officers to return to their parent departments.

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Latif said they had sought some time from the court because immediately enforcing the SC ruling would create problems as there was a shortage of deputy secretaries.

It was agreed that the Establishment Division and then FPSC would both submit their recommendations in the next 10 days.

Separately, another committee of the Senate also held its meeting to review the FPSC’s report for 2015 in which they discussed reforms for recruiting civil servants The existing system, they agreed, was ‘outdated and irrelevant’.

Later, Power Division dissolved the committee, formed a new one comprising its officials

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