Ministries Ordered to Appoint Heads of Departments Immediately

A 3 month deadline has been given for appointment of relevant heads

ISLAMABAD 25th July: While expressing serious concern over assigning additional charge, the government has given a three-month deadline to the ministries and divisions, telling them to appoint permanent full-time heads of departments, organisations and entities within the given time frame.

The three-month deadline was set after cabinet members voiced deep concern over the practice of assigning additional charge of important positions including the head of department.

Cabinet members argued, in a recent meeting, that part-time heads of department were not able to do justice to their assignments and all organisations must have full-time head, chief executive officer and chairman. “If the ministries and divisions fail to meet the deadline, the minister and secretary of the ministry and division concerned will be held responsible,” a senior government official told The Express Tribune while quoting a decision of the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
According to the official, the cabinet expressed serious displeasure over the continued practice of assigning additional charge of the head of department despite clear instructions to the contrary from the government.
Earlier, the government had directed the ministries and divisions to appoint permanent heads of public-sector companies and departments after coming to power about 11 months ago. However, the directive was ignored and important positions were being held by officials on an acting basis.

At present, majority of the public-sector companies are being run on an ad hoc basis and no permanent heads have been appointed. Pakistan’s largest explorer Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) is being run on an ad hoc basis since the tenure of previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.

Several attempts had been made to appoint the full-time head of OGDC during the PML-N’s tenure but to no avail.

The same is the case with the largest state-run oil marketing company Pakistan State Oil (PSO), which is also being run with an ad hoc arrangement. The existing acting managing director of PSO has been given extension several times.

“He has been given the acting charge for the fourth time, though the company has published an advertisement for appointing the new head,” the official said.

Public-sector gas distribution companies – Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) – are also being run with an ad hoc arrangement. The current Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had earlier removed the heads of gas companies following the eruption of gas crisis in winter. However, no permanent head has been appointed so far.

Explaining the situation, the official said boards of directors of many public-sector companies had been appointed on political grounds during the PML-N’s tenure. Therefore, the first task for the current government was to reconstitute the boards of directors and appoint permanent heads.

“The boards have already been reconstituted and the process of hiring permanent heads has started now,” he said.

The issue of assigning additional charge came to the fore during discussion on granting the additional charge of the post of Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) chairman in a recent meeting of the cabinet.

The discussion was held in the wake of a summary submitted by the Ministry of Industries and Production, seeking cabinet’s approval for assigning additional charge of the post of EPZA chairman to Ministry of Industries’ Additional Secretary Abdul Jabbar Shaheen for a period of three months or till the hiring of a permanent chairman. The cabinet approved the summary.

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