Rules of Business ignored in cabinet meetings

2018-08-27T03:37:43+05:00 Fawad Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD - The first two cabinet meetings of the PTI government have not followed Rules of Business, 1973, while considering different summaries, it has been learnt.

Summaries were submitted to the cabinet without following the Rules of Business 1973, official sources told The Nation. The condition for submission of a summary seven days prior to the cabinet meeting, comments of concerned ministries/divisions and approval of the minister in-charge were all ignored while presenting summaries before the federal cabinet, said the source.

Talking about salient features of the procedure for submission of cabinet/cabinet committee cases as per the rules, the source said that for inclusion of a case in the agenda of a cabinet meeting, the summary (complete in all respect) is required to reach cabinet division at least seven clear days in advance of the meeting.

The cabinet division may not accept any summary received after that period. A summary reaching the cabinet division after the prescribed period shall be included in the agenda of the subsequent cabinet meeting, provided it is in order.

The rules further state that if a case is concerned to more than one division, the summary should not be submitted to the cabinet/cabinet committee unless all concerned divisions are consulted and their views or comments whether positive or negative are clearly reflected in the summary, the source said.

“When a case, listed in rule 16 (1) of the Rules of Business, 1973 is required to be submitted to the cabinet/cabinet committee, the secretary concerned shall submit a self-contained, concise, lucid and printed summary. The summary should contain background of the case, relevant facts, points for decision and recommendations/approval of the minister in-charge,” said the source.

The rules further elaborate that when portfolio of a ministry has not been allocated to a minister, that ministry or division shall be in the charge of the prime minister. In that case, the summary shall be submitted with the approval of the prime minister in his capacity as minister-in-charge of that ministry or division. The summary for the cabinet should not be submitted with the authorisation of the minister of state, adviser to the PM or special assistant to the PM, unless the PM has authorised them to do so as a special case.

However, the official said that during the first two cabinet meetings of the PTI government, the 1973 rules were not followed. For example, a summary regarding working week duration was submitted by the establishment division. There were several violations of the rules, as the working paper was added to the 2nd meeting of the federal cabinet on August 24 on the desire of prime minister without taking input of the ministries/division concerned. The condition of seven-day advance submission was not followed, the source said.

In 2011, the six days working week was reduced to five on a summary moved by the Ministry of Water and Power based on the justification that the power crisis and shortage of electricity consumption could be reduced across Pakistan by reducing the working days from 6 to 5, which was approved accordingly by the ECC and was notified by the interior division. Neither the power division nor the ministry of interior was consulted for their recommendation/viewpoint, the source said.

Ironically, the summary was moved without doing any research on the merit and demerit of 6 or 5 days week as the summary was generated in hurry. The cabinet was informed that although no formal study had been carried out, anecdotal evidence suggested that no change either positive or negative in the productivity was expected as a result of the change in the duration of working week.

Since, in the absence of federal minister for the establishment division, the PM is minister in-charge of the division and therefore, it was required to submit the summary with his approval but it was not done and the summary was submitted with the signature of an additional secretary.

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