Pakistan’s civil service system can be divided into four broad categories: the recruitment process, the training, the performance evaluation and career progression. It needs reforms in all areas in order for it to work.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has introduced minor tweaks in all three areas except the recruitment process. One of the so called change is renaming of the Central Superior Service (CSS) as Central Services of Pakistan (CSP). On one hand, the reforms are being considered to bring no impact. On the other hand, the approach seems to be practical in the scenario of Pakistan. Today, we analyze what PTI government has done so far to improve the efficiency of bureaucracy.
Although the Federal Public Service Commission tries its best to select the best candidates for civil services, the recruitment process needs more efficiency. But the government has so far made no changes in the CSS exams. For example, the result of Competitive Exams (CE) are announced in October whereas the exams take place in February.
Unless the process is truly inclusive, rightly guided, less influenced and legally backed no reforms can be considered 'reforms' …!!!
Reforms would be hectic, back breaking; requiring innovation, tech savy, passion and patience…!!!
— Shehryar Memon 🇵🇰 (@Shehryar1987) November 24, 2020
The hurdle in Civil Service Reforms
PTI’s majority status in the Senate now provides government the opportunity to introduce changes in the civil services. So what is keeping PM Imran Khan government to revolutionize the service delivery system?
It is the revolution itself. In other words, the bureaucrats are reluctant to see an overnight change in the system. Therefore, PM Khan and Dr. Ishrat Hussain, advisor to PM for institutional reforms, said that the civil service reforms will be introduced in phases.
Somehow this approach is practical because in this way, the changes could be made along the way if some reforms prove counterproductive.
Some of the major reforms that have been introduced so far are as:
Civil Servants Promotion Rules
The appointing authorities have been categorically defined. Promotion will be made by a committee. Promotion would be based on annual performance reports, training reports of officers, interview of the evaluation board.
Officers who had any pending investigations for references in the Federal Investigation Agency or the National Accountability Bureau would not be promoted and their promotion would instead be deferred until the inquiry against them was concluded.
Promotion based on rotation
The promotion has now been linked to rotation. Mehmood said, “If an officer doesn’t rotate and remains in one province, then they can’t be promoted into grade BS-21.” A notification in this regard was circulated by FPSC.
Sending incompetent bureaucrats home
Civil Servants Rules, 2020 were approved by PM Khan last year to improve the performance of bureaucracy. Under these rules, incompetent civil servants could now be sent home. The chairman of FPSC would have the authority to direct retirements for grades BS-20 and above, the secretary for grades BS-17 to BS-19 and the senior joint secretary for grades BS-16 and below.
Improving the efficiency of civil services
Ministries and their divisions are run by civil servants. To enhance the performance, for the first time in Pakistan, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been developed for each ministry with timelines, told Mohammad Shehzad Arbab, Advisor to PM Khan on Establishment, in an interview to Dr. Moeed Pirzada, lead anchor 92 News and Editor-in-Chief Global Village Space.
He also recently tweeted that the performance have reviewed.
Review process for performance of ministries during 3rd qtr has been initiated under Performance Agreements signed between PM and ministers concerned. Review report will be submitted to PM. Purpose is to ensure that ministries complete all initiatives in time pic.twitter.com/VqwmlAgRBq
— Shehzad Arbab (@ShahzadArbab1) April 22, 2021
Disciplinary action will also be initiated against individuals who enter plea bargains or voluntarily return money. Not to mention, almost 500 bureaucrats in Sindh opted for plea bargain last year. As soon as the news came out, the Sindh High Court directed the Sindh chief secretary to immediately put under suspension and initiate disciplinary proceedings against them. The court was also told that 4270 Sindh officials were facing inquiries.
Civil Servants will be directly recruited in what is called the Management Pay (MP) scale. Shafqat Mehmood said in January press conference that advertisements have now been allowed to recruit individuals for MP scales and they can be recruited from elsewhere or particularly searched for.
Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) strength will be reduced so that officials from other occupational groups can be given opportunities.
By introducing these reforms he government has been trying to improve the service delivery structure; however, it is facing criticism from general public and former civil servants. The critics say that most of these were already existing; therefore, there will be no impact on the performance.
The question that is before us is that ‘are people of Pakistan happy with the public service delivery?’ There has been no visible change; however, people are satisfied with PM’s Citizen Portal which is checking strict vigilance on the performance of civil servants.
Read more: 6 movies CSS aspirant can not afford to miss
The Civil Services of Pakistan needs major changes like introduction of platforms like the complaint portal in order to translate the policies into actions.
Fahad Aziz Taherani is the Coordinating Editor at Global Village Space (GVS) News Publication. He has a keen interest in Central Superior Services of Pakistan. He tweets at fahadtaherani. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.