Civil servants resist cut in perks

Syed Yusuf Raza GilaniISLAMABAD: Higher ranked government officers have successfully thwarted the attempt of the government to implement the transport monetisation package, that would have taken away the top mandarins privilege of chauffeur driven cars, by compensating them with cash grant of Rs40,000 to Rs70,000 per month depending upon their grades.

An official source said that the summary was with the Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani for the last four months and he still has to make up his mind about approving it or rejecting it. If the decision is not made by the PM then the national exchequer may incur a loss of Rs1.6 billion on the allocation for new cars, as the pressure for approving new cars is on the rise. “Withholding of the summary goes against the austerity drive of the government and against the spirit of the cabinet’s decision,” he said. Faced with a severe financial crisis, the government has decided to reduce its expenditures and take austerity measures. The recommendations were a part of the austerity plan drafted by the finance ministry and approved by the federal cabinet but were to be implemented by each of the respective ministry.

According to the initial plan of the ministry of finance the monetisation package was to be offered to 1391 senior officers (grade 20 and above) at the start of new fiscal year. They were to be given assistance of Rs40,000 to Rs70,000 along with their monthly salary from 1st August. They would have to forego their vehicle, driver, maintenance and petrol allowances that would enable a saving of over Rs100 million per annum. The government would also be saving the Rs1.6 billion worth of allocation that it made for purchasing new vehicles during the next fiscal year.

The finance ministry has recommended the cabinet division that officers opting for the monetisation package will not be entitled to use any of the project vehicles. At present, other than the official vehicle, senior officers illegally use a large number of their departments’ vehicles and in some cases they start projects just to get perks like allowances and vehicles for their personal use.

The package was to be initially offered by the federal government and there was no binding on the provincial governments to follow suit but they could also offer a monetisation package on similar grounds to control their expenditures, the source said; further adding that since it has fizzled out at the federal level so it could be implemented at the provincial level.

The perks of officers in Grade 20 and above cost the government Rs4.7 billion and if the administrative expense were included it reached Rs6 billion annually. The monetisation would reduce the current expense on perks to Rs3 billion. Currently civil servants are receiving perks in addition to their cash pay including transportation, housing, plots, land, membership to clubs and membership of boards. – PT