Legal Action: Technocrats threaten to file action against government

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ISLAMABAD: In a rare show of defiance, the Economist Group has lodged a complaint to the government against the appointment of the chief economist of Pakistan. This is the first move of its kind by the dejected officers who may take the government to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

In its official complaint, called a representation, the Economist Group – which is one of the technocratic groups constituted under the Civil Service Reforms of 1973 – also lodged a complaint against giving their posts to influential District Management Group (DMG) officers, now known as the Pakistan Administrative Services (PAS) Group.

The representation was given to Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, and Secretary Planning Hasan Nawaz Tarar.

The federal government had previously advertised the vacancy of the position of Chief Economist of Pakistan. The group is of the view that the advertisement was in violation of recruitment rules of the Economist Group, notified in December 1984 and amended in 2011.

According to the rules, “The post of chief economist of basic pay scale 22 and all posts in pay scale 21 including posts of Joint Chief Economist, Economic Adviser (BS-21) shall be filled by promotion”. The group has demanded that the government appoint a senior officer of the group as Chief Economist of Pakistan instead of hiring someone from outside the group or from private sector.

The representation is the first step towards taking the new government to the Supreme Court.

If the government fails to address their grievances within one month of the representation, they will take the matter to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, said the officers who gave the representation. Over two-dozen officers of the group signed the representation.

The Economist Group has expressed their long held grievances at a time when a Chinese delegation is in town to initiate groundwork for setting up the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor. The delegation is dealing with the Planning Commission, and the Economist Group is considered to be the backbone of the Commission and the Ministry of Planning.

The post of Chief Economist has been lying vacant for over two years after Dr Jaffer Qamar resigned from the post. Dr Qamar too had been hired from the private sector but he failed to fulfill the job requirements.

The group demanded that if the government had already decided to appoint a chief economist through advertisement, it should also advertise the posts of Federal Secretary Planning, Secretary Finance, Secretary Petroleum, Secretary Water and Power and Secretary Economic Affairs Division.

The Economist Group’s career planning rests with the Ministry of Planning, while in the case of all other groups a centralised career planning is entrusted with Establishment Division, according to the representation. The Economist Group has demanded that it too should be placed under the Establishment Division for administrative purposes.

“Due to lack of proper career planning and discriminatory treatment the sanctioned strength of the group has been reduced from the original 372 to just 187”, said to the representation documents.

The situation has become so grave that the government finds it difficult to attract fresh talent, said the officers, adding that instead of strengthening the Economist Group, the federal government had decided to hire over 50 young professionals with a background in economics for a one year period to implement its economic vision.

The Ministry of Planning is in the hands of DMG officers who are given important posts to officers from DMG group, claim the group.

The representation stated that advertisement for Chief Economist and posting of Joint Chief Economists from other groups were against rules and principles of promotion of professionalism.

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