LAHORE     -   In a giant leap to giving administrative autonomy to the South Punjab, the Additional Chief Secretary heading the bureaucratic set up in the Southern region has been granted powers of the Chief Secretary as a result of a recent amendments in the Punjab government’s rules of business.

A newly inducted Rule-9A of the rules of business defines powers of the Additional Chief Secretary who has been given powers of a Chief Secretary to run the administration.

Rule 9A reads: “The Additional Chief Secretary South Punjab shall, except the power under clause (b) of rule 9 of the rules, exercise all powers of the Chief Secretary given under laws, rules, notifications and standing orders of the government, unless notified or directed otherwise by the Chief Secretary”.

Under this rule, all administrative secretaries, Additional Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and Section Officers posted in the South Punjab Secretariat will be reporting directly to the Additional Chief Secretary in respect of all matters and functions relating to the administration.

Clause 2 of rule 9A further explains the functions of the Additional Chief Secretary South Punjab. It reads: “The Additional Chief Secretary South Punjab shall coordinate and supervise the activities of all the departments in the South Punjab Secretariat on behalf of the Chief Secretary”.

Clause 3 of the said rule requires the Additional Chief Secretary South Punjab to keep the Chief Secretary informed of all the developments and acts   strictly in accordance with the instructions and directions conveyed to him by the Chief Secretary.

Under the new arrangement, the functions of 15 provincial departments have been bifurcated and devolved to the newly created departments in the South Punjab Secretariat. 

These departments include: finance, home, law, S&GAD, health, education, P&D, revenue, local government, agriculture, C&W, Forestry, wildlife and fisheries, housing, urban development and public health engineering, irrigation and livestock and dairy development.

Under the new rules of business, the administrative secretaries posted in the main civil secretariat in Lahore will not exercise any control over these departments created for the South Punjab

In other words, their powers have been reduced significantly after the new changes. Same would be the case in respect of the Chief Secretary, who has lost direct control over the South Punjab.

Experts believe that South Punjab has now become a separate administrative unit for all practical purposes though it is not having its own legislative assembly and a Chief Minister.