As the Cabinet Division on Thursday announced the completion of the devolution process, the row between the federal and provincial governments, particularly Punjab, over the devolution of ministries and their subordinate departments is likely to worsen and the issue is likely to be resolved either in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) or in the Supreme Court.
The devolution process has placed 131 of the total 178 departments of seven devolved ministries under various divisions and ministries of the federal government. The Cabinet Division on Thursday issued a notification for the devolution of seven final ministries under the 18th Amendment.
Despite strong reservations recently expressed by the Sindh and Punjab governments over the retention of departments of devolved ministries by the federal government, the Cabinet Division’s notification says that only 47 of the 178 departments of the devolved ministries had been transferred to the provinces.
According to the notification, offices, vehicles, belongings, development projects and the staff would be provided to the provinces, but the provision of funds and technical stuff was not mentioned in the notification. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah recently alleged that the federal government was being partial towards the Punjab government by not transferring 35 subjects (departments) worth billions of rupees devolved under the 18th Amendment to the provinces. Sana said they would raise the issue in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
With the issuance of the notification, the ministries of Food and Agriculture, Environment, Health, Minorities Affairs, Labour and Manpower, Sports and Women Development, as well as their divisions and components, shall cease to exist with effect from July 1, 2011.
The functions of the Ministry of Environment regarding national policy, strategies and programmes on environment pollution, ecology, forestry, wildlife, biodiversity, climate change and desertification have been handed over to the Planning and Development Division. The coordination, monitoring and implementation of environmental agreements with other countries, international agencies and forums have also been assigned to the Planning and Development Division.
The Secretariat of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Council, established under the Pakistan Environment Protection Act, 1997, and Quaid-e-Azam Mazar Management Board and its memorial fund have been given to the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC).
The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency has been placed under the Capital Administration Development Division (CADD) and hunting areas for foreign dignitaries will be managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the provinces concerned.
The Zoological Survey of Pakistan has been placed under the Ministry of Science and Technology, National Energy Conservation Centre (ENERCON) with the Ministry of Water and Power, Marine Biological Research Laboratory Karachi has been given to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping and Global Environment Impact Study Centre, Islamabad has been placed under the Planning and Development Division.
With the devolution of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, issues pertaining food supplies and their storage will be looked after by the Federal Bureau of Statistics and issues regarding procurement of food grains, their inter-provincial movement and exports will be looked after by the Ministry of Commerce. The collection of statistics on food production, consumption and prices will be managed by the Federal Bureau of Statistics.
Matters concerning World Food and Agriculture Organisation will be handled by the Economic Affairs Division and agriculture research by the Ministry of Science and Technology. Pesticides, fertilizers, locust control and PASSCO’s management have been placed under the Ministry of Commerce and seed testing has been handed over to Ministry of Science and Technology.
The component departments of the Food Ministry, such as the Department of Plant Protection Karachi and PASSCO, have been given to the Ministry of Commerce, Agricultural Policy Institute, Federal Seed Certification and Registration Islamabad to the Ministry of Science and Technology and Pakistan Central Cotton Committee to the Textile Ministry.
According to the notification, medical services for federal employees have been placed under the CADD and orgainisations like the Red Crescent Society and TB Association have been handed over to the Inter-Provincial Coordination Ministry (IPC).
The Drugs Act 1976 will be administered by the Drugs Regulatory Agency, while other attached departments of the devolved Health Ministry, like Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, Pakistan Nursing Council, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan Council of Homeopathy, Pakistan Tibb Council and National Pharmacy Council have been placed under the IPC Ministry.
The National Institute of Health has been handed over to the Cabinet Division.
The Industrial Relation Ordinance will be looked after by the IPC Ministry, international labour agreements by the Economic Affairs Division and the Newspapers Employees (Condition of services) Act 1973 will be looked after by the Information Ministry.
The notification added that foreign employment and emigration issues earlier managed by the Labour Ministry will be looked after the Overseas Pakistanis’ Ministry and the Workers Welfare Fund and EOBI will be retained by the IPC.
The Evacuee Trust Property Board of the devolved Minorities’ Affairs Ministry has been transferred to the Ministry of Human Rights.