Free ride: 76 PML-N affiliates costing Rs20m to Punjab govt

January 29, 2011

LAHORE: As the Punjab government abolishes 550 posts to save Rs6 billion annually in expenditures, 76 people connected with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) continue to work as coordinators, chairpersons of task forces and media consultants in various departments and institutions, causing a financial burden of above Rs20 million annually to the provincial government.

An official requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune that these appointed men are enjoying perks and privileges without making any remarkable contribution to government business.

Among them, 49 are consultants, 17 chairpersons of task forces of various departments and 10 are media consultants in the Information Culture and Youth Affairs (IC&YA) department to look after media management of the government.

Since July 2009, the Punjab government has appointed ruling party office-bearers and workers, 49 of them, as coordinators in various departments and teaching hospitals to assist officials in improving performance and service delivery to the masses. Of these 49, 11 are offered salaries, allowances, vehicles, petrol, lubricant and oil, office with telephone facilities. Their salaries range between Rs20,000 and 75,000 per month. They are also provided between 150 and 200 litres of fuel per month. The remaining 38 are working on a honorary basis.

These individuals are enjoying perks associated with their posts without making any contribution to government affairs. Since June 2008, the Punjab government led by Shahbaz Sharif constituted 28 task forces in different departments, which were assigned various responsibilities including recommending proposals for the promotion of good governance and merit in the public sector. The purpose of establishing these task forces was to save public funds likely to be utilised on offices of provincial ministers.

The government, after approval by the chief minister’s secretariat, appointed some elected parliamentarians, party office bearers, like-minded businessmen, retired bureaucrats and technocrats as chairpersons of these task forces. All chairmen were given official vehicles, offices, telephones and manpower to complete the assigned tasks. Of these appointed people, 11 were offered salary packages ranging between Rs75,000 and Rs2,25,000. In addition, they were also offered travelling allowance/daily allowance at par with BS-20 officers.

However in August 2010, after analysing the poor performance and casual attitude of the chairpersons, the Punjab government abolished 11 task forces on the directions of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, an official said. But despite that, 17 people continue to enjoy benefits as chairpersons of various bodies.

An official said that the provincial government can save Rs20 million if it terminates contracts of these 76 people.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th,  2011.



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