Punjab govt moves to clip Governor’s powers

LAHORE: The Punjab cabinet which met here on Thursday under the chair of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, approved immediate recruitment of some 32,000 science teachers in education department, besides curtailing Punjab Governor’s powers to appoint vice-chancellors in public sector universities.

The cabinet also granted approval to several energy projects to generate 2400MW of electricity from different sources. It also approved the annual plan and strategy for 2011-12 presented by provincial energy department for various projects, annual report of the Punjab pension fund, amendment bills of Punjab Civil Servants Act 1974 and Disposal of Land by Development Authorities (Regulations) Act 1998.

The chief minister rejected the proposal of housing department to allocate Chief Minister’s quota of plots in development authorities. The pace of progress of Yellow Cab scheme for the provision of job opportunities to the educated youth also came under consideration in the meeting.Giving details of the decisions made in the cabinet meeting, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah told reporters that government had decided to recruit 32, 218 science teachers out of which 2,900 will be recruited through Punjab Public Service Commission. The law minister assured the government would ensure merit and transparency in the recruitment process as it did in case of 40,000 educators and 15,000 police constables. He said no body would have discretionary marks as evaluation of candidates would be done on the basis of marks obtained throughout their educational career.

He said a complaint authority headed by a retired LHC judge would also be set up to address complaints of candidates in this regard. He said the merit list would be uploaded on Punjab government’s official website to ensure transparency.He said the cabinet had also decided to devise a new mechanism for the appointment of vice-chancellors without approval of the chancellor (Governor). Justifying the decision, the law minister said there were over 100 universities in the province both in the public and private sector, and it was not possible for one chancellor to look after the affairs of universities.

He said cabinet sub-committee had been set up, which would make its recommendations in this regard. Rana said the government wanted to give more administrative and financial autonomy to the universities. He said a search committee to select the vice-chancellors was already in place, while a new body comprising retired civil officers, judges and men of integrity may also be set up to appoint vice-chancellors.

To a question, he said there was no need to make any new legislation for the purpose as it would require amendment in certain rules only. He told that government’s planned move was not aimed at curtailing governor’s powers as only that of the chief minister will be taken away. When his attention was drawn towards Acts of different universities, according to which, vice-chancellors will be appoint by the chancellor, who happened to be the Punjab governor, the minister said the governor was bound to act on the advice of chief minister.He said the cabinet had also decided to make certain amendments in Punjab Civil Servants Act to streamline the process of promotion of officers. The promotion will take effect after approval of the selection board despite a belated notification in this regard. He said the board’s decision will be effective even after retirement of the officers.

Talking about energy policy, he said the cabinet had approved a pilot project to convert all important government offices, including chief minister’s secretariat, Punjab Civil Secretariat, Governor’s House, commissioners’ offices, district coordination officers and other government departments on solar energy. He said the government will generate 1400 MW of electricity through hydle resources, for which some 100 hydle power points had been identified. He said the government also intended to produce 1,000 MW of electricity from the bagasse, a by-product of sugar mills. These projects, he added, will be completed in next one or two years.

He said the cabinet also reviewed law and order situation in the province and sought suggestions from cabinet members to make improvements.He said some circles did not like the chief minister’s recent visit to Karachi. He said Zulfiqar Mirza talked about the 40 thieves in his news conference, but did not mention the “Ali Baba” sitting in Islamabad.To a question, he said the MQM should respond to the allegation regarding the alleged written letter by Altaf Hussain to the then British Premier Tony Blair.He said in his personal opinion, the allegations coming from both sides were correct.He said conspiracies were being hatched to break Punjab just for political point scoring to divert people’s attention from corruption. He, however, said the PML-N was in favour of establishment of new provinces in the country on administrative grounds. – Nation