ISLAMABAD: The Planning Commission of Pakistan – the body responsible for making national plans – is currently operating on an ‘ad-hoc basis’ as contracts of half its members have expired while the remaining are about to expire soon. Members are working without any legal cover.
Out of the eleven members the Commission has, eight well-reputed technocrat members have been hired from the private sector.
The bureaucracy is defying directions given by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to increase the pay packages of the MP-I to that of MP III scale.
During his last visit to the Planning Commission, the premier directed to increase the salaries of the MP scales. The technocrats are hired in the MP-I scale, which had not been revised for the last many months.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is the chairman of the Planning Commission while Federal Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal is his deputy chairman. Both executives are directly responsible for extending the contract period of PC members.
The contracts of three members expired a few months ago; they are still awaiting a decision on whether they would continue as members or leave. Another member has been asked to leave. Out of the remaining four members, contracts of the Chief Economist and Member Energy would expire by the end of this week.
“Contracts of Member Governance and Reforms Syed Tahir Hijazi, Member Infrastructure, Regional Connectivity Malik Ahmad Khan and Member Social Sector Dr Naeemul Zafar expired a few months ago. Yet, all three of them have been attending office without any legal cover,” said a member on condition of anonymity.
The contract of Chief Economist Dr Nadeem Javaid would expire on Monday while Member Energy Syed Akhtar Ali’s official last working day would be Friday.
This exposes the incompetency of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms – one that has been given the responsibility of improving governance and introducing reform in other departments.
The government, instead of initiating a case for their extension before the expiry of the contract, started the process after their expiry. “If the government was not happy with our work, they should have just informed us before our contracts expired so that we could have found another job,” said a member.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal was not available for comments.
In addition to the PM and the Planning Minister, there are nine members including Secretary, Planning & Development Division who belongs to District Management Group. These members are member Coordination, Chief Economist, Director, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Executive Director, Implementation and Monitoring, and Members for Social Sectors, Science and Technology, Energy, Infrastructure, and Food and Agriculture.
The Planning Commission works under the overall direction of a Policy Board chaired by the Prime Minister and includes the Deputy Chairman, 10 Federal Ministers and Members of the Planning Commission.
It is responsible for preparing the National Plan and reviewing and evaluating its implementation, formulation of annual plan, monitoring and evaluation of implementation of major development projects and programmes.
The Chief Economist is also said to be unhappy with his revised job descriptions. Dr Nadeem Javaid may opt to leave the post if his grievances are not addressed.
“Although the minister has asked me to continue, I will decide only after getting clarity on reporting lines and job description,” said Dr Javaid.
The Chief Economist post is one of the most important posts in the economic ministries. However, the office was rendered ineffective during the last restructuring of the Planning Commission done by the PML-N government after coming into power.
All PC members have served for over two years and many of them have contributed to economic policymaking.
Courtesy : Express Tribune