The government committee on restructuring and right-sizing
formally presented to Chief Executive recommendations for slashing the civilian
bureaucratic apparatus of the federal government by almost 40,000 (12% of total
posts) and reduction of federal divisions from 34 to 26. The Chief Executive has
asked the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, who is heading the committee, to
put these proposals, after consulting federal ministries/divisions, before the
cabinet for final approval. He directed the deputy chairman, in a high level
meeting, to immediately circulate committee's recommendations to all the Federal
Ministers and Secretaries to get their views on these recommendations.
The Ministers and Secretaries will be given two weeks time to
formulate and then submit to the planning commission their views on the proposed
cut. On the basis of their views, General Musharraf said, the planning
commission would revise these recommendations and would forward the same to the
cabinet for final approval.
The final proposals, the General said, must be submitted
before the cabinet by the end of May 2001 so that these recommendations could be
implemented from the next financial year 2001-2002.
According to sources, the committee has recommended a cut of
12% of the total federal civil bureaucracy's posts. It has also proposed
reduction of federal divisions in two phases from 34 to 20. In first
phase-2001-02 the number of divisions would be reduced to 22 while this number
would further go down to 20 in phase two-2002-2003.
This reduction in number of divisions would be the
consequence of their merger. However, in order to protect what the committee
believes high calibre required for quality decision-making, a division merging
into another though to be called a wing would be headed by a special secretary
A number of attached departments are recommended to be closed
down, transferred to provinces or privatized because the committee is of the
view that they have outlived their utility.
This right-sizing exercise of the present government will
mainly hit the lower staff (grade 1-6). The posts that are proposed to be cut
include almost 90% in lower grades. Seniors posts (grade 17 and above) to be
slashed are almost 4000).
The committee recommended that the redundant staff in the
federal ministries/divisions and attached departments should not be terminated.
Instead, under the rule of "last in and first out" staff declared
redundant should be placed in a "division surplus pool" by the
division/departments. But these staff, it is proposed, will continue to work in
their present jobs and receive special training particularly in computer skills
until absorbed against regular vacancies or until retirement.
Surplus staff, the committee recommended, however, could be
offered voluntary retirement with immediate effect but with additional full pay
for a period ranging from six to 36 months depending on length of service.
The officer-staff current ratio is said to be determined by a
mixture of outdated entitlement-assessment made by the Establishment Division in
the 1960s. The new norms of officer staff ratio, set by the committee are 1:3.2
for 2001-2002 and 1:2.5 for 2002-2003 onwards.
Restructuring and right-sizing of government
ministries/divisions and agencies, it is recommended, should be a continued
process rather than a one-time event. "This will ensure that government
agencies are always appropriately focused and staffed to achieve their
objectives, "the committee said, recommending that the restructuring
exercise should be made a part of the annual budgetary process.
The committee said that the federal secretaries are empowered
under the rules of business to re-organise their divisions/departments according
to their work requirement. However, the committee laments that secretaries
rarely use these powers to re-organise their establishments as changes in grades
and creation of position is controlled by the Finance and Establishment Division
and 80% posts in each Ministry/Division are reserved for occupational groups
controlled by the establishment division.
The government's anxiety to implement the IMF
conditionalities is understandable in view of its desperate bid to qualify for
soft loans being sought for the implementation of its reform agenda including
revival of the national economy. It is true that the Ministries, Divisions,
Corporations etc. are overstaffed due to unscrupulous inductions by the
political governments, who had created posts to reward their workers, favourites
and cronies. It is also a fact that the state machinery was oversized as
compared to the country's legitimate administrative needs. The committee's
recommendations to reduce the size of the administrative machinery is,
therefore, quite appropriate. The Chief Executive's categorical announcement
that no surplus civil servant will be rendered jobless is, however, welcome,
because there are already hundreds of thousands unemployed educated youth
struggling for employment to earn their subsistence. It would be neither
advisable nor judicious to create unemployment for more educated people. What
is, however, necessary is that the process of reorganization or restructuring of
the state machinery should be carried out expeditiously, in order to avoid
uncertainty in the minds of the civil servants. It could not be ignored that a
government's credibility remains at stake during the pendency of its decisions
implementation. Since the present government is confronted with multifarious
problems at home and abroad, it cannot afford any further erosion of its
credibility. It is, therefore, desirable that finalization of the plan should be
completed swiftly and the restructuring is completed expeditiously to avoid
state of uncertainty. It will, however, be pertinent that restructuring should
contribute towards improvement of the efficiency. We must avoid pitfalls,
because we cannot afford to miss the opportunity to put in place an efficient,
vibrant, responsive and responsible state machinery.