Lahore - Punjab Chief Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokhar has directed the civil servants to perform their duties in accordance with the rules and regulations without fearing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Talking to The Nation Khokhar dispelled the impression that NAB’s fear has hampered the performance of civil servants in the country’s largest province.

He said there was no political interference in the administrative affairs and he was free to take all decisions.

The chief secretary said when the departments take action against the corrupt and inefficient officials, the latter approach courts or service tribunals to get relief. Generally, he said, courts and tribunals direct the CS to hear the petitioners and decide their matters according to law, a practice that adds to the workload of the CS Office.  About powers of commissioners, DCs and ACs, Khokhar said there was “a vacuum in law enforcement mechanism after abolition of the Executive Magistracy in 2001”.

He said the government was introducing a new local government system in which the district administration institutions would perform more actively. He said the BOR was working on a plan to retrieve state lands from illegal occupants.

The chief secretary said that the PTI government was serious enough to get the state lands vacated from the land mafias.

He said during 100 days, the districts administrations got the lands vacated worth billions of rupees from illegal occupants. He said that the officials had been clearly directed not to compromise on the law. When the administrative officers were magistrates as well, they could direct police to execute their orders. The officers had powers to grill the accused on the spot. Moreover, they could get vacated the illegally occupied properties with the help of police.

To a question that the utility allowance had been sanctioned for grade 1 to grade 16 officials and grade 20 and above officers while the section officers, deputy secretaries and additional secretaries were denied it, he vowed to resolve the issue.

He said that the government would streamline house requisition issues as well. Asked if the section officers (SOs), superintendents and private secretaries have the same grades (BP 17), and the SOs, the section heads, complain that they faced difficulty in running the official affairs, the CS said that Rules of Business determine role and responsibility of every officer and all officials should work according to the prescribed rules.

About crackdown on power pilferers, he stressed that he ran a massive campaign against the power thieves. “Punjab delivered better than other provinces and the crime is controlled to a great extent” the CS claimed.

About water theft from irrigation channels, he insisted that the department must step up efforts to curb the crime.

About officials’ connivance in 2,200 water theft cases in Bahawalnagar Canal Circle (BCC), the chief secretary said the department should take stern action against officials involved. He said lacunas in the disciplinary proceedings provide a chance to the accused get relief.

About ex-cadre officers’ postings, he said the Rule 15 allows such deputations as a stop-gap arrangement.  About heavy salaries in public sector companies, Khokhar said the refund would be made as per the court directions and the state law.

Fifty-four out of total 346 government officers, who had been drawing above Rs300,000 per month were ordered to refund salaries. Former LDA DG Ahad Khan Cheema had drawn Rs51.423 million, former Saaf Pani Company CEO Waseem Ajmal Ch Rs28.35 million and others have been directed to refund the salaries to the public exchequer.