ISLAMABAD -  The handing over of the additional charge of the Ministry of Planning to the interior minister will adversely affect the reforms started by the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Sartaj Aziz.

The step indicates that the government is not ready to allow Planning Commission work independently as it is focusing on the upcoming elections, a senior official of the Ministry of Planning said.

It will undo all the reforms started by Sartaj Aziz, the official added.

Soon after assuming charge as deputy chairman, Aziz has started reforms to streamline the working of the Planning Commission, the source told The Nation.

The minister is mostly carrying out a political agenda focusing on the upcoming general elections, while Sartaj Aziz had a primarily technical and professional approach towards the operations of the commission, the source said.

If you just see the CDWP projects approved during the tenure of Sartaj Aziz, these were done purely on professional grounds, the official said.

Soon after taking over the charge of deputy chairman, Aziz started taking briefings on various PSDP-funded projects and was evaluating the achievement of those projects, the official said.

The Planning Ministry run by a minister is considered politically motivated, and when a deputy chairman is at the helm of the affairs it stays neutral and more professional, the official said.

You can never expect from a Planning Commission headed by a deputy chairman to approve any project on political basis, he said.

Since 2018 is the election year, therefore the government wants to push their political agenda through its minister, the official alleged.

Most of the projects approved during the tenure of Sartaj Aziz were done on merit, he said.

Moreover, the official said that the deputy chairman had started cleaning up the PSDP-funded projects from political inductees.

There are around 33 PSDP-funded projects of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms and 80 per cent of them, including the CPEC Support Project and Vision 2025, were without full-time project directors.

In the past, the minister of planning was always projecting the Vision 2025 but the project is running without a full time project director.

Similarly, for the past one and half year the charge of project director of the CPEC Support Project, was with the deputy director of the project.

Last week, the deputy chairman has taken back the ad-hoc charge of project director CPEC Support Project from the deputy director and handed over the charge to the additional secretary of the ministry.

The matter of streamlining the Young Development Fellow (YDF) and Development Communication projects was also under consideration, the official said.

The total cost of the YDF programme is Rs261.6 million but it is being considered politically driven as son and daughters of influential people were hired.

Earlier, it was decided that the YDF internees will work with desk officers of the Ministry of Planning.

However, the plan did not materialise and the 40 YDF internees were mostly deputed with high officials of the ministry, and majority was not even coming to the ministry, the official said.

The Development Communication project, which cost around Rs660 million was mostly working as a publicity platform for the ministry wasting its time in routine coverage, the official said.

The deputy chairman has asked the Development Communication project officials to focus only on the development side and leave the routine coverage of the events or restrict only to the issuance of press releases, the official said.

During his previous position, a friend of planning minister occupied four different positions in the Planning Ministry, the official said. Ameer Zameer, a grade-18 official of the NTDC working as a PD of two important project, advisor on energy and spokesperson of the Planning Ministry.

He came to the ministry in grade-19 but was allowed to use the transport facility of grade-20.

The deputation of Zameer was due to expire in January 2017 and the ministry has asked the Establishment Division to extend his deputation for six months but no extension was provided so far but he is still serving in the ministry.

Now the high ups of the ministry are trying to get his extension in back date, the official said.

Zameer is working as a PD of the PPMI and the Special Project Cell (SPC), the official said.

Zameer is the employ of the NTDC and he came to ministry in 2014 on three years deputation, which was due to expire in January 2017 but before his tenure expired his deputation with the Ministry of Planning was terminated, 10 December 2015 vide letter MD/NTDC/HR&A Dir/DMCM/PF=277/8521-33.

The officer has not reported arrival in NTDC.

Due to non-compliance of the order, the officer was placed under suspension and attached with Headquarters WAPDA House.

The planning ministry in January 2017 asked the Establishment Division for extension of six months but extension has not been provided so far, the official said.

Although the planning has asked for six months extension but the NTDC has provided extension for one year. Now the Planning Commission has once again asked the Establishment Division to provide extension of one year and they are still waiting for the reply. After assuming the charge of deputy chairman, Sartaj Aziz has stripped Zameer of his position as spokesman of the commission, the official said.  Under the rule, a spokesman to the ministry should be an officer of grade 21.

The spokesperson of the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) was contacted for comment but he did not reply even after the passage of four weeks.