The Cabinet’s decision to abolish an estimated 71000 jobs looks to be excessive on the surface, but in reality, is an important and necessary component of the government’s reforms policy to rationalise state expenditure. These positions had been lying vacant for at least a year, which tells us that staff members in those positions were clearly not needed; work had been carried out without anyone being hired.

This policy has been in the works for at least one month, and it is positive to see the Cabinet expediting important state business that can potentially save millions. With the economy still recovering from the many shocks it has faced in the past few years—the latest being the pandemic—employing any means to cut costs will go a long way in helping us recover. One thing that the government can simply not afford right now is hiring resources it does not need.

This also provides the much-needed opportunity for streamlining unused or unneeded government departments. Reportedly, this decision alone reduces the number of federal government departments from 441 to 324. Beyond salaries, overheads such as costs to run and maintain fixed assets for departments that have no purpose and no employees will no longer be needed to be considered when formulating the yearly budget and allocations.

Monetary reasons aside, Pakistan’s bureaucratic model has been criticised by many, including successive governments for being bloated and inefficient. Trimming the fat was needed for it to work more effectively. With irrelevant posts taken out of the mix, there is greater responsibility on departments and individual civil servants to deliver, and also makes it more difficult to not do any work and simply pass on the buck to another department, one that might not even be functional. It is positive that the Prime Minister and the cabinet are looking at ways to make the civil service focus on service delivery to be more effective and responsive; it is high time we looked towards improving the bureaucracy.