ISLAMABAD - Indus River System Authority (IRSA) employees are still waiting for the decision of the government on switching their Basic Pay Scale (BPS) to Special Pay Scale (SPS).

In the light of the advice of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) a summary in this regard was sent to the Ministry of Water and Power and Ministry of Finance in May this year to decide about the fate of the IRSA 100 employees but we are still waiting for the decision, an official sources said.

“The government neither considers us in BPS, when it comes to housing and pension, nor SPS when it’s come to special allowances as both were opposed by the concerned authorities,” an official of the IRSA told The Nation. Temporarily IRSA is authorised to pay the special allowances to their employees but the long term decision about the scales has yet to come, the official added. The government has to accommodate the concerns of the IRSA employees as they were denied the perks available, by the housing and water and power ministries, to the officials in BPS and the only way out is to move them SPS, the official said.

“We are happy either way in BPS or SPS, if the government considers us in BPS then they should entitle us the perks available to BPS employees and if they want to move us to Special Pay Scale then they should pay us like the OGDCL employees,” the official informed.

It is pertinent to mention here that IRSA, which is representing the four provinces and the federal government, was not getting any grant or allocation from the federal government for salaries and allowances. It was drawing its revenues from water use cess from the provincial governments, hydropower cess from Wapda, and nuclear power plants. IRSA is annually getting about Rs220 million by charging the provinces water cess at a rate of 30 paisa per acre feet of water and Wapda’s power plants and Chashma Nuclear Power Plant power cess at half a paisa per unit of electricity.

The issue was first started when a sub-committee constituted by the PAC had suspended special and housing allowances after examining audit paras about Irsa for the fiscal year 2003-04. The AGP had found irregularity in the allowances granted to Irsa employees in 2003-04 on the directive of then chief executive Gen Pervez Musharraf.

According the details, while moving the Irsa headquarters from Lahore to Islamabad in 2002, the then government had committed additional allowances and housing facility in Islamabad to the Authority staff. But later the Ministry of Housing declined to provide housing facility and said Irsa was not on the housing list of the federal government because like other corporations and regulatory bodies it was established under an act of parliament.

Besides, declining accommodation by the ministry of housing, the water and power ministry also give its verdict against the regulatory body, saying that the officials of Irsa were not entitled to pension from the Federal Consolidated Fund because under the law they fell under the category of public servants, and not civil servants.

However, the ministry advised Irsa to frame its own rules under section 12(2) of the Irsa Act 1992. Following the advice, Irsa framed its own rules providing allowance on the pattern of secretariat allowance and housing allowance at the government rate.

The AGP had objected to Irsa’s 2003-04 accounts and requested the PAC to suspend the allowances. The PAC then constituted a sub-committee to resolve the matter. The sub-committee in a special briefing, on a review petition filed by Irsa, decided in favour of the regulatory body and removed the ban on the allowances to Irsa officials and directed the water and power ministry, Irsa and the establishment division to sort out the issue on priority basis.

Now the issue is pending with the ministry which will decide about the fate of the Irsa employees who are still unable to get the full-fledged benefit of either BPS or SPS, the official added.