SHEIKHUPURA

A report prepared on the orders of the Federal Ombudsman has urged the Pakistan Railways authorities to implement the pension system rules in letter and spirit instead of aggravating the pensioners' grievances.

Talking to this scribe, Hafiz Ahsan Ahmed, an official of Grievance Commissioner Cell for Overseas Pakistanis in the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat, said that Federal Ombudsman Salman Faruqui had taken a suo moto notice of the sudden death of a retired employee of Pakistan Railways - Rab Nawaz. Nawaz had frequently visited Pakistan Railways Headquarters Lahore to get his pension sanctioned but the Railways authorities raised various objections about his date of birth and his actual date of appointment.

The authorities failed to finalise the pension case during five months and he finally died due to heart attack during his last visit to the Railways headquarters, he said.

The official said that the Federal Ombudsman had constituted a committee last year.

The committee after detailed investigation observed that despite existence of rules and issuance of governmental instructions from time to time as given in liberalized Pension Rules 1977 and ancillary instructions and Articles of Civil Services Regulations, many pension cases of government employees were delayed and reported, he detailed.

He further stated as per the report, the system was malfunctioning and does not protect the pensioners' rights. The report finds that the department lacks effective enforcement of the mechanism for implementation of the pension rules, he added.

He said that according to recommendations of the committee, the agency should maintain a computerised list showing the dates of retirement of all their officers and staffers who are due to retire within a financial year. It should review progress of those cases on quarterly basis.

He said that the committee further recommended that focal persons within the agency, not below BS-20 with support of the staff, be appointed to monitor and resolve pension matters immediately, completion of service record of officers and staff and ensure that they are regularly updated. It recommended that liaise with audit office and the accounts office for finalisation of pension cases also be maintained to keep the pensioners updated with regard to their pension cases at least three months before his/her date of retirement and their acknowledgment for having seen his papers be obtained.

He said stress has been made in report that once the cheques are issued to the employees for payment of their settlement dues they must be honoured by the banks and the Railway Administration shall ensure that there is no excuse for any budgetary constraint what-so-ever.