LAHORE -  For the first time in history, the Punjab government gave senior executive allowance to both civil and police chiefs, The Nation has learnt.

Official sources confided to this paper that the chief minister’s office nodded the raise after long deliberations. As per the notification issued by the finance department, the Punjab chief secretary, administrative head of the government, will be given record Rs 400,000 while the IGP will get Rs 375,000 other than their salaries and other perks. Chief Secretary Capt (retd) Zahid Saeed and IGP Mushtaq Sukhera are grade-22 officers and head their respective wings of the administration.

To a query, a senior officer said executive allowances for other slots like administrative secretaries of other departments, Senior Member Board of Revenue (SMBR), P&D chairman, additional chief secretary, members of the board, Anti-Corruption Establishment DG, CMIT chairman, director generals of departments may be given handsome allowances after the nod of the CM office. However, he refused to disclose the amounts of allowances for these slots. “The monetary benefits will not be limited to the senior officers, but junior officers will also get as per their basic pay scales,” the officer added. Even the ministerial staff would not be exception, he disclosed.

When asked why such huge amounts were being given to the administrative heads, the officer said, “The officers were showing concerns over appointment of junior officers in different projects and drawing high packages. Junior officers were getting huge sums of money in different energy projects. Moreover, government officers or private persons working at helm of affairs at the Health Care Commission, Higher Education Commission, Overseas Pakistanis Commission, Land Records Management Authority, Punjab Saaf Pani Project, Punjab Revenue Authority and many others were drawing huge sums.

A grade-19 officer, Ahad Khan Cheema, is getting over Rs 1.5 million in an energy project run by the province and a BPS-22 grade chief secretary draws over Rs 100,000. “This forced CM Shehbaz Sharif to raise allowances initially for the civil and police heads,” he averred.

Though administrative secretaries, commissioners, DCOs, ACs get utility allowances ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 approximately.

It is not yet clear whether commissioners, deputy commissioners and ACs will also get such huge allowances or not. When this paper asked a DC, he said they were deprived of allowances they used to get as DCOs. However, he said the government was considering giving them some extra allowances.

An officer of the CM office, on condition of anonymity, said the government was facing severe challenges while finding talented persons for important slots. Moreover, brain drain was on the rise due to less attractive packages. He said the federal government also wanted to introduce National Executive Service Cadre with huge benefits to officers serving on senior positions.

The provincial government is also facing shortage of officers for different positions, he asserted. “Many officers are holding more than one positions and they could not justify their job,” he said.

An administrative secretary, also requesting anonymity, said former chief secretary Nasir Khosa had erased all project allowances given to officers working there. “The officers reported to their parent departments as a result of it,” the secretary said. “Not only these allowances were revived by the present regime, but many times increase was also made,” he averred. When asked why there was so difference in salaries of secretaries, commissioners and members in the same grades. He said: “The officers lobby for slots with more salary and perks and reject posting on positions with little packages. Moreover, salary packages drawn by the police personnel and the judiciary were also different.”

Talking about posting of officers in the projects, he said, “They should be hired after competing for the project seats through Federal or Provincial Public Service Commission. There should be an advertisement in the national newspapers for such positions with an addition that both private and government personnel are eligible. Otherwise, many officers will think blue-eyed officers are being obliged. Analyse record of such postings, you would conclude that the officers who served on important slots succeed in getting project posts irrespective of the fact that they were junior.

An economy expert, Rizwanur Rehman, said without enforcing proper work audit mechanism for officers, such heavy allowances being given to officers were an undue burden on the national kitty. “There should be a justification why the government wants to give huge sum of money to an officer who otherwise gets very short part of it in any department,” Rehman said. This practice demoralises those honest and hardworking officers who lack political links, he added. At least, public sector should avoid such discrepancies for officers of the same cadre. This policy of the government has led to poor working of departments and raised mushroom trend of establishment of different companies, authorities, agencies and projects.