The Punjab government turns sour on its “promise” of handing over residential plots to its retired employees under the Punjab Government Servants Housing Foundation (PGSHF), despite collecting billions of rupees in installments allegedly because the project was a brainchild of the previous regime, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Thousands of retired government employees have been moving from pillar to post to get their ‘promised’ plot under the PGSHF, however, the incumbent government has put it on the back burner and is not willing to return the deducted amount.
Former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi’s regime took the initiative for the benefit of government employees who only get a small amount at retirement after spending many years in serving the state. The purpose was to give the servants of the state a plot after retirement instead of a small chunk which was of no avail to them after a lifetime of service.
The foundation started in 2004 and all Punjab government employees were given the chance to become members until February 2005. Around 125,000 employees got themselves registered. A formula was devised to deduct a certain amount from the salaries of employees from Grade 1 to Grade 22 and for allotting plots ranging between 5marla to one-kanal to them, depending on the grade and seniority of the employee. According to the formula: Rs 800 is deducted from Grade 1 to Grade 7 employees; Rs 1200 from Grade 8 to Grade 12; Rs 1500 from Grade 13 to Grade 15; Rs2000 from Grade 16; Rs2400 from Grade 17 and Grade 18, while Rs3600 from Grade 19 to Grade 22. The dimensions of plots approved were: Grade 1 to Grade 7 (5 Marla); Grade 8 to Grade 15 (7 Marla); Grade 16 to Grade 18 (10 Marla), while one-kanal plots for Grade 19 to Grade 22.
A recent amendment in the act of the autonomous foundation has included provision of houses to the retired employees, further giving bank loan facility for payment of the balance cost of the house upon retirement. The rules also gave permission to sell the house one year after taking possession.
However, the retired employees, even those from senior positions, have become victims of bureaucratic red tapism and neglect, highlighting the indifference of those at the helm of affairs in the province.
A senior official who retired at Grade 21, on the condition of anonymity, said the government has deducted more than Rs 200,000 from his salary over the years, but now “is not handing over either the plot or a house as promised when the membership of the PGSHF opened”. “I’ve even met the DG of the foundation asking him to return my money if the plot or houses were not available but the DG advised me to move the court and set a precedent for all those in the waiting line,” the official added. “We have served the state and not any particular political party; victimising thousands of government employees only because the foundation was previous regime’s brainchild is the most brutal breach of law and morality,” the official further said.
“I have spent my life serving the government and all I have got in return is countless rounds to the housing foundation’s office, asking for this document or that. They never said anything like that when they took our money from us,” a lower grade employee, asking not to be named, told Pakistan Today.
Talking to Pakistan Today, PGSHF DG Abdul Rauf said the government is “more serious than ever” to handover the plots citing a recent amendment which included the provision of houses along with the plots. “The project has been marred with certain delay which has resulted into a long waiting list of employees. We have built houses near Bahria Town in Lahore and work will start shortly in Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan. We will hand over the plots and houses,” Rauf said. To a question, he said the total financial outlay of the project cannot be given because employees keep promoting and getting retired and the amount deducted keeps changing.