South Punjab secretariat gets complete autonomy
LAHORE – The Punjab cabinet on Tuesday approved amendments to the Punjab Government’s Rules of Business to grant administrative and financial autonomy to the newly created South Punjab secretariat. The 47th provincial cabinet meeting was held under the chair of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar at his office. The new amendments to the rules of business clearly define the acts and powers of South Punjab’s additional chief secretary (ACS), secretaries and the departments. The South Punjab secretariat will comprise three divisions, 11 districts and 17 state departments with complete administrative authority to ACS (South Punjab) and secretaries.
The ACS (South Punjab) has been given the authority to transfer grade-17 officers including assistant commissioners. He has also been empowered to approve the budget and provide funds to the offices of commissioners, DCs and ACs along with the authority to write ACRs of South Punjab departments’ secretaries. The South Punjab departments’ secretaries have been given all those powers of promotions, transfers and recruitments which are available to their counterparts in the province of Punjab. Also, the heads of autonomous bodies, boards, authorities, and companies will be answerable to the respective secretaries.
Following the cabinet meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar addressed a press conference to announce the decisions about the South Punjab secretariat. He termed it a step towards the creation of a separate province which the PTI had promised to make in its election manifesto. “PM Imran Khan had vowed to carve out a separate South Punjab province and this was also part of the PTI manifesto. The cabinet meeting has approved amendments to Punjab Government Rules of Business, 2011 to move further in this regard,” he said.
Giving details of the new administrative set up in South Punjab, the chief minister said that powers of ACS (South Punjab), secretaries and departments have been clarified while the South Punjab secretariat will comprise of Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Khanewal, Layyah, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur and Vehari. He said that 17 provincial departments have been placed under the new secretariat. The south Punjab ACS and secretaries will be administratively fully empowered while the ACS (South Punjab) has also been given the power to transfer grade-17 officers. “The ACS will also have the authority to approve the budget and provide funds to the commissioners, DCs and ACs’ offices,” he said, adding that the ACS (South Punjab) has also been authorised to write the ACRs of South Punjab secretaries. He said that secretaries posted in south Punjab have been given all the powers available to Punjab secretaries. “The heads of autonomous bodies, boards, authorities and companies will be answerable to the secretaries,” he added.
He further said a 33 per cent budget, amounting to 190 billion, has been reserved for South Punjab. He said the cabinet has also approved the service tribunal of South Punjab.
To a question, the CM said the Punjab government has traced all cases of heinous crime. “I issued directions to police while taking notice of such cases and some police officials are also removed from their posts,” he stated, adding that every step has been taken to ensure rule of law.
To a question, he said: “The helicopter is used for government duties as he visits different areas to solve public problems on the spot.”
He said the development is the prime focus of the government as utilisation of the budget will be ensured. “The approval of rules of business for the South Punjab secretariat is a historical step to solve public problems at the grassroots and they will not have to visit Lahore,” he stressed.
“PM Imran Khan will soon lay a foundation stone of the South Punjab secretariat in Bahawalpur,” he said.
Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht said midnight oil is burnt to formulate rules of business as it is a historical step of CM Usman Buzdar-led government. “This will remove deprivations and public problems will be resolved at their doorsteps,” he added. Provincial ministers including Fayyaz-ul-Hasan Chohan, Dr Akhtar Malik, Hasnain Bahadur Dreshak, parliamentary secretary Abdul Hayee Dastee and ACS (South Punjab) were also present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, the cabinet also approved the outsourcing of government’s rest houses as the TDCP would be allowed to give them on a 20-year lease with the option of a 10-years extension. The lease will be given through an open auction to ensure transparency.
The meeting allowed IDAP for the construction and rehabilitation of 32 KPK hospitals to promote interprovincial harmony along with the approval of an affordable housing model for peri-urban areas. According to the decision, the use of a three billion rupees revolving fund will be permitted for infrastructural development. The cabinet approved the establishment of the Punjab Commission for Illegal Housing Societies with retired Justice Azmat Saeed as its head. Matters about the release of fitness certificates for transport vehicles were approved along with the decision to amend Punjab Pension Fund and Punjab General Provident Investment Fund’s Act. After the amendments, Punjab Pension Fund and Punjab General Provident Investment Fund will be empowered to invest in 100 per cent government schemes and national saving schemes.
The cabinet decided to constitute a cabinet standing committee for universal health insurance along with amendments in The Punjab Medical and Health Institutions Act, 2003. After this, the BOM matters of hospitals will be streamlined. Approval was accorded to steps relating to the promotion of austerity for 2021-22 by the austerity committee and it was decided to hand over Lahore Museum to the Archaeology department.
The cabinet approved operationalisation of PHA in Sialkot, endorsement of the charter of Lahore Institute of Science and Technology and Grand Asian University Sialkot along with the approval of posting of the chairperson of Punjab Commission on Status of Women according to the rules. The annual calendar for the fourth parliamentary year of the Punjab Assembly for 2021-22 and the Provincial Ombudsman’s annual report for 2020 was also approved.
It was decided not to nominate a below grade-20 officer for BoG of the National School of Public Policy. Formal approval of Amjad Ali Awan for the post of CEO Punjab PPP Authority was allowed. Similarly, the cabinet also okayed the performance audit report about the 2017-18 audit of Cholistan Development Authority Bahawalpur and the audit report of the accounts of Works Department for 2020-21 besides confirmation of the AGP reports about the district governments’ accounts for 2017-18 and 2020-21 and the AGP reports about Punjab government accounts for 2016-17, 2018-19 and 2020-21. AGP reports about district governments’ accounts for 2019-20 were also accepted along with the approval of a monitoring report about the implementation of NFC award July-December 2019 and January-June 2020 were passed. The proceedings of the 46th meeting of the provincial cabinet, decisions made in the 59th meeting of the cabinet standing committee for finance and development and the decisions made in the 63rd-67th meetings of the cabinet standing committee for legislation were also approved.