18 ministries to go, but some not needed may stay | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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18 ministries to go, but some not needed may stay

Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The size of the federal secretariat would be slashed by 18 federal divisions by the end of June this year, thus reducing the number of such entities from 50 to 32. But several divisions having hardly any substantial need or business may still continue to function.

Following the omission of the concurrent legislative list through the 18th constitutional amendment, the process of devolution of the matters, mentioned in the said list to the provinces, shall be completed by June30, 2011.

As required by the Constitution, the Implementation Commission, under Senator Raza Rabbani, has already identified the 18 divisions, five of which have already been devolved while the remaining 13 would be devolved by June 30, 2011. Five federal divisions are expected to be abolished in the next few days while the rest would be devolved in the third and final phase of devolution.

The five federal divisions already devolved include local government and rural development, population welfare division, special initiative division, youth affairs division, and zakat and usher division.

The 13 federal divisions that awaits devolution include the culture, education, environment, food and agriculture, health, labour and manpower, livestock and dairy development, minorities affairs, statistic, social welfare and special education, sports, tourism and women development.

Some believe that the above list of 18 divisions to be devolved following the decision of the Implementation Commission include some of the divisions that do not deal with the subjects included in the concurrent list.

The number of the federal divisions that would be retained in 32 and include cabinet, commerce, communications, defence, defence production, economic affairs, establishment, finance, foreign affairs, housing and works, human rights, industries and production, information and broadcasting, information technology and telecommunication, interior, inter-provincial coordination division, Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, law, justice and parliamentary affairs, narcotics control, overseas Pakistanis, petroleum and natural resources, planning and development, ports and shipping, postal services, privatization, railways, religious, revenue, scientific and technological research, states and frontier regions, textile industry and water and power. The sources, however, insist that amongst the divisions that are being retained several have hardly any work to do but still they were created and still maintained as independent identities at the cost of taxpayers’ money merely because it suits both the political masters and their subservient but crafty civilian bureaucracy.

A lot could be saved by the government by rationalizing its size and slashing the bloated bureaucracy, but neither the rulers nor the bureaucrats pay any attention towards this blatant wastage of public money.

Dr Ishrat Hussain-led federal body, created by Musharraf to rationalize the size of the federal secretariat, had recommended to cut down the size of the federal ministries to just 17, but the ousted dictator simply ignored those recommendations while the present regime also did not consider the findings even once.

In more than 17 federal ministries and division, including some of those being devolved, the administrative hierarchy in each of such ministry/division has two deputy secretaries, one joint secretary and secretary, who serves as the administrative head of the ministry/division and led by a federal minister or minister of state or in cases by both. There are even some ministries that do not even have a joint secretary, thus creating a situation where federal secretary is working with a few deputy secretaries of BS-19 officers.

Details show that the ministries/divisions, including culture, youth affairs, human rights, inter-provincial coordination, livestock and dairy development, minorities, narcotics control, social welfare and special education, overseas Pakistanis, postal service, investment, population, sports, statistics, tourism, textile industry and women development, have just one joint secretary each and one or two deputy secretaries just like a wing of federal ministry like interior, finance, establishment etc.

Such non-entities being retained and not being devolved, including textile industry division, revenue division, postal services division, narcotics division, inter-provincial coordination division, human rights division etc.

According to sources, the government could save a lot if the bloated size of the federal secretariat is rationalized through merger of the federal ministries and divisions. These sources said that for need of additional slots for ministers and federal secretaries, such a ruthless bifurcation of the previous ministries/divisions has been done that what a section or wing of a ministry used to do in the past has been assigned to a full fledge ministry or division.

These sources said that the postal department used to be handled by a section officer in the ministry of communication but today we have a full fledge ministry of postal service. The communication ministry in the past also used to look after all the work presently assigned to the ministries like railways, ports and shipping, postal service etc.

Similarly, once the ministry of sports, culture, youth and tourism has been converted into four independent ministries/divisions, the past’s ministry of interior women development, social welfare special education and population too have been divided into three ministries/divisions.

The ministry of law in the past used to have parliamentary affairs, human rights its parts, but now they too are separate ministries. The interior ministry used to have narcotics division, states and frontier regions and even Kashmir affairs and northern areas under it, but now they too are separate ministries.

For pure political purposes, the ministry of livestock and dairy development was created out of the ministry of food and agriculture; ministries of minorities and zakat and usher from the ministry of religious affairs.
Source: The News