PRIME Minister Imran Khan has asked Civil Servants to support in implementation of the agenda of PTI. In his speech with the civil servants September 14, 2018, he said without help of civil servants the agenda of his government would be rendered useless as civil servants are executive arms of the administration. He assured that salary of civil servant will be increased. The Civil Service reforms are main agenda of Imran khan government. The prime Minister also in his speech to the nation announced a task force to develop blue print for civil services reforms. The 100-day agenda of PTI highlights the need for appointing officers on merit, offering tenure protection and proper accountability. The PTI manifesto also allowing lateral entry, compulsory retirement and review compensation package. Pakistan is a country with brightest civil servants and weakest governance. An effective public service has remained main achievement of National economic, capable and motivated bureaucracy has also played an instrumental role in economic growth. Effective civil Services are characterized by good governance which means sound policy making, efficient service delivery and responsibility in public resources utilization.
Most of civil servants are much supportive of reforms and willing to be held accountable for their performances in return for tenure security and better salaries. If there was a man who could be trusted to does this job than Dr. Ishrat Hussain is capable to complete the task. Dr. Ishrat Hussain is presently Advisor to Prime Minister for holding portfolio Austerity & Institutional Reforms has been talking about many of these issues repeatedly. He has been advocating for the introduction of National Executive Service (NES), transparent, merit based recruitment, tenure security, performance evolution based on measurable performance. Dr. Ishrat Hussain in his book ‘Governing the Ungovernable’ has mentioned NES at federal and provincial level. As per proposed plan, civil servant of BPS-19 and experienced professionals from outside the Civil services would be inducted into NES. The NES would open to all professionals from the open market as well as BPS-19 officers in Civil Services. Inducting professionals from outside to be good idea but it would be acceptable? The reason is simple; civil servants would not accept the Boss from outside. There is a need for an arrangement where expertise comes among the civil servants.
The good news is that Civil services reforms have been agenda for successive government is one form or another. The Pakistan vision 2025 also priorities civil service reform as a major objective and Ministry of Planning and Development focusing on Specialization and professionalosim, out come based performance evolution and meritocracy in appointments. There are certain recherché within and outside the country suggesting that financial incentives do improve the performance depending on context. Civil servant has a habit of taking training and assignments to hold emergencies issues and they seems to be superior in all the ranks of other jobs. Dr Ishrat Hussain is the man of caliber, who may propose the reforms in civil services but members for top bureaucracy must be included in the committee, so the civil servant working must be satisfied. Political will is key to successful reform initiatives. Furthermore, a task force can only work well, if supported by a capable secretariat, which can quickly commission research and place findings before the task force for decisions only. Recruiting and retaining talent will be critical for the new government. Civil service reform is an important piece of this puzzle and the sooner the new government cracks it the better it will be at delivering on its election promises.
— The writer is retired health officer of Sindh Govt.