'Ghost employees issue linked to erroneous Nadra entries' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Ghost employees issue linked to erroneous Nadra entries’

Imtiaz Ali

Karachi: The inquiry being conducted into the issue of over 21,000 non-existent or ghost employees of the Sindh government has initially revealed that the matter is also linked to the “erroneous” data entry by Nadra, The News has learnt.

The failure to update the record may also be blamed since about 23,000 employees are still getting pay on old national identity cards. Furthermore, the issue of the payment of double salaries to certain officials or those who have died has something to do with corruption or fraud but the number of such cases might be negligible.

“Based on the preliminary inquiry, we are certain that the detection of over 21,000 non-existent employees is linked to erroneous data entry by Nadra,” said two senior provincial government officials who are familiar with the inquiry, while talking to The News on Wednesday.

For instance, Nadra has revealed that there are 50 non-existent employees in the finance department, of whom nine are working at the head office in Karachi. The preliminary inquiry has further revealed that they have been shown as non-existent or ghost employees merely on account of a single wrong digit in their CNIC number. One employee has been shown as non-existent because instead of digit 4, digit 1 has been typed in his CNIC number. The same is the case with other employees working at the Sindh Secretariat.

Another official said it came to their utter surprise that the driver of one of the members of the inquiry committee had been shown as non-existent merely because his CNIC number did not match with Nadra’s data entry.

However, a Nadra official told The News that there was no “possibility” of any wrong entry in the authority’s record. He said these numbers were provided by the provincial government and they matched it. The Nadra official, who wished anonymity, said there were cases of around 10 to 12 dead employees who were being paid salaries for several years. In other cases, certain employees were getting salaries at two places simultaneously, according to the official.

A senior official of the Sindh government said that based on the preliminary findings, the departments had been asked to verify the record of their employees. The official said there was need to exercise caution but perhaps in haste Nadra declared the CNICs of over 21,000 employees “invalid” when they matched the record provided to them by the accountant general (AG) office. Such haste made a “big headline” in the media though the facts may have been different, the official said.

The officials said that the issue of the detection of thousands of non-existent employees surfaced when the Services and General Administration Department proposed a Smart Card scheme for over 450,000 government employees across the province. The contract for this project was recommended to be given to Nadra.

When this proposal was sent to the finance department for ascertaining its financial implications, the officials there put a big question mark over it on account of two reasons, i.e. a huge cost was involved as Nadra demanded Rs1,200 per employee for the computerisation of the record, and the finance department did not deem the project viable as thousands of offices of the provincial government are spread across the province. It was not possible to install the biometric system at each office located far away as there was a possibility that such machines might be stolen or destroyed. Subsequently, the Services and General Administration Department wrote a letter to Nadra to explain the viability of the project, and the AG’s record of employees was given to them, which did not match Nadra’s record.

The officials said that the finance department did not consider the project viable as the record of only 15 percent of employees was not computerised.

On his part, AG Sindh Shaikh Muhammad Ashraf told The News that if there was any fault in the CNICs of the employees, then the responsibility fell on the department concerned and not on the AG office. He said there were over 450,000 employees and the departments concerned provided all required information about them prior to disbursing their salaries.

Ashraf said they had asked the authorities to provide the record of such employees to the AG office and they would identify them. He opined that if the CNICs of 21,500 employees did not match Nadra’s record, it might be related to human errors.

Answering a question, Muhammad Ashraf said only Nadra could verify the record as the AG office had no tool or technology to conduct this exercise.

About the issue of receiving double salaries by a single employee, the AG said that if a department provided information about the transfer of such employees, the pay would be stopped. He said the AG office provided pay to certain employees through the manual bill instead of a computerised slip because the record of such employees was not being provided to them timely in case of their transfers. The AG said that if they stopped paying salaries, the employees would raise a hue and cry.

Another official of the provincial government said Nadra had provided the case of one such employee who happened to be a doctor. He said the doctor was getting pay when he was posted in Mirpurkhas in Grade 17. And when he was promoted to Grade 18 and transferred to Hyderabad, he continued getting a salary in Mirpurkhas as well.

The official opined that such few cases may be linked to corruption or fraud but they were sure that this fraud could not continue for long without the connivance of the controlling authorities concerned or accounts officials.

Source: The News