By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: In a blatant case of self-serving and conflict of interest, the top members of the civil bureaucracy, federal secretaries and officers of BS-22 have secretly ganged up to grab as many high-priced residential plots in Islamabad as is possible and have quietly got all the orders passed from a confused government.
They have moved summaries, passed orders and done everything unnoticed at a time when the government is in the midst of a serious economic crunch and facing political uncertainty. Taking advantage of the dysfunctional atmosphere of the present regime, because of all sorts of crises it is facing, federal secretaries have recently got approval from Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to acquire the right for the BS-22 officers to apply for an extra government house measuring 500 square yards, in addition to the two residential plots that they are entitled to get in the federal capital.
Additionally, the BS-22 officers have also manipulated from the prime minister a waiver to the condition of a minimum two years of service in BS-22 to become eligible for getting an additional 500 square meter residential plot in the capital.
With these changes already notified, now if a bureaucrat gets promotion to BS-22 and retires the same day or the next day, he would get additional residential plots of 500 sq yd in Islamabad. Previously, at least two years of service in the BS-22 was required to become eligible.
Under changed terms and conditions, the likes of principal secretary to the prime minister, principal secretary to the president, secretary housing, secretary information and many others have become eligible for additional residential plots.
In another case, the housing facility that was started last year for civil servants in BS-17 to BS-21, belonging to different occupations groups, have now been extended to federal secretaries, who have already been issued offer letters to apply for the 500 sq yds house.
The spokesman of the housing ministry when contacted confirmed that the two-year service condition in BS-22 has been waived by the prime minister. In another case, the spokesman, however, said BS-22 officers were eligible to apply for a house even from day one when the policy was announced. The offer letters, the spokesman acknowledged, have been issued to federal secretaries recently in the present regime.
However, an honourable federal secretary confided to this correspondent that the top bureaucrats are now discussing the option of taking up the matter with the prime minister to alter the provision of house with a plot because the former option would involve years-long instalments while the latter would get them a quick return by selling the land immediately. In other words, if any officer is promoted to BPS-22, he would become a multi-millionaire the same day.
Moreover, a summary has been moved to the prime minister to get a quiet approval for the allotment of additional plots to even re-employed federal secretaries. The proposal also contains a list of at least nine retired federal secretaries, including some of those who retired after attaining superannuation.
Thus, any retired officer if ever re-employed becomes a multi-millionaire the same day. These names include Iftikhar Rashid, ex-chairman Pemra; Syed Mohib Asad, ex-member federal public service commission; Younis Khan, ex-auditor general of Pakistan; Tariq Farooq, ex-member federal services tribunal; Rashid Mehmud Ansar, member FST; Kamal Asfar, ex-chairman State Life Insurance; Nasiruddin Ahmad, member Nepra; Maj (retd) Muhammad Durrani, chairman Balochistan public service commission; and Khalid Mehmud, Chairman PEVTA.
In 2006, the government had announced an additional package of perks, including special pay at the rate of 20 per cent; post-retirement lifetime facility of driver/orderly; and one residential plot (in addition to the one allotted through the federal government employees housing scheme) to only those BS-22 officers, both serving and retired, who would be officiating as administrative head of the federal ministries and divisions for two years.
At that stage no other BS-22 officer belonging to any of the central superior services, including the secretariat group in which the officers are promoted as federal secretaries, were allowed this package if they were not heading a federal ministry or division. Neither the special secretaries nor the secretary generals were allowed.
But later the terms and conditions were revised to include all the grade 22 officers, the special secretaries and also the secretary generals amongst the class of bureaucrats, who were allowed the package. Since at that time all the blue-eyed re-employed federal secretaries, secretary generals and even special secretaries were given an additional plots but later the re-employed secretaries, etc., were excluded from the special class of bureaucrats. But now the effort is to reverse that decision too.
Generally, the bureaucracy did not welcome the top-Baboos specific package and protested after which the then-government decided to offer houses to all BS-17 and BS-21 CSS officers. It was decided that later this scheme would be extended to ex-cadre (non CSS) government servants too.
But now the BS-22 officers, belonging to different occupational groups, have also been included in this housing scheme. While the top bureaucrats have successfully manoeuvred to get at least two residential plots and one house in Islamabad, there are quite a few, who have even four and even more plots in Islamabad, all allotted by the government under different schemes.