Top bureaucrats pocket generous performance allowance


-Govt ignores junior officers by allocating Rs 5 bn for SOPA in budget

ISLAMABAD: Top bureaucrats, especially those from Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), have deprived the junior officers of grade 17 to 19 from getting Executive and Monetisation Allowance, it was learned reliably on Saturday.

The senior government servants succeeded to allocate Rs 5 billion under the head of Senior Officers Performance Allowance (SOPA). During the budget speech, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said, “The government is also setting aside an allocation of Rs.5 billion for Senior Officers Performance Allowance. Details of this will be announced separately.”

Sources told Pakistan Today that government had agreed to give Executive and Monetisation allowance to grade 17 to 19 officers but on the insistence of Finance Ministry, the federal cabinet transferred the allocation to SOPA whereas the Executive and Monetisation allowance was excluded from the proposal.

It was added that the executive allowance was the brainchild of Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad and he, along with other officers, was vigorously pursuing to include it in the budget for the fiscal year 2018-19.

A senior bureaucrat, who attended the Fridays’ federal cabinet meeting, disclosed that the move was backed by a few officers, including the high-ups of Finance Ministry, to exclude the allowance for officers of grade 17 to 19 from the main proposals. By taking advantage of this, they succeed to allocate Rs 5 billion under the head of SOPA, the official added.

SOPA will be only disbursed to grade 20 to 22 officers. There will be a huge surge (approximately 300 to 616 percent) in the salaries of the aforementioned grade officers.

The grade-20 officers will get Rs 0.2 million (300%), Rs 0.3 million (401%) for grade-21, while the increase in minimum pay of BPS-22 officers would be 0.5 million (616%) after the introduction of SOPA in budget 2018-19.

Adding to this, grade 20 to 22 officers will also receive an across the board ad-hoc relief allowance of 10 percent. Grade 1 to 19 officers will only get this 10 percent ad-hoc relief allowance.

The official informed that the main beneficiaries of SOPA will be the PAS officers as a high number of them belong to grade 20 to 22 after the Office Memorandum (OM) of 2014.

Presently, there are 300 officers of PAS that are in grade 20 to 22 in the federal ministries and autonomous bodies.

The officer stated that although the SOPA will be given to officers on a performance basis, the criteria for determining the performance was questionable. In similar fashion, the government had given Rs 1 billion to senior officers in the last fiscal years as well.

It is worth mentioning that senior officers from grade 20 to 22 were already availing the monetisation allowance ranging from Rs 65,000 to Rs 95,000 per month. Moreover, they are getting a driver allowance worth Rs 10,000 if they cannot keep the services of drivers but sources said that most of the officers are violating this policy while the SC had taken the matter into consideration.

The government has increased the house rent ceiling by 50 percent of all grade officers, but this is a peanut as compared to SOPA, the official complained.