PIDE holds webinar on Civil Service Reforms

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) organized a webinar, ‘Civil Service Reforms,’ with Dr. Ishrat Husain, advisor to the Prime Minister on institutional reforms and austerity with the status of Federal Minister to discuss how the state of civil service can be improved in Pakistan. The webinar was moderated by Dr. Nadeem Ul Haque, Vice Chancellor of PIDE. Dr. Ishrat Hussain explains that a three-fold approach is being used to bring civil service reforms.
He explains how some of the key institutions of economic governance, such as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Railways, PIA and etc, need to be transformed in terms of their structures, processes, human resource capabilities and technological adoption. In the past, these institutions have continued to stay dependent on donors and the IMF, however, to compete with other countries in the region and promote private sector investment it is important to bring change from within.
Moreover, it is also pertinent to restructure the federal government as part of the civil service reforms. A survey was conducted to identify and list the number of organisations functioning under the ministries and their mandates. Results showed that there are 440 such organisations which can be classified under 16 different entities. Dr. Ishrat Hussain explained that a key part of the civil service reforms was to classify them under 6 categories and 2 types of organisational structures, namely autonomous bodies and executive departments. The idea behind this reform was to ensure that there is a clear division between policymaking, its implementation and regulation. The regulatory functions will be completely independent of the ministries. 330 organisations were grouped according to this method and the rest 110 were either to be privatized, liquidated, merged, or given to the provinces as they were no longer performing the functions for which they were established. This work has been completed and is not part of the government’s structure.
The third aspect of the civil service was to design a complete value chain for civil service officers. Starting from their induction and recruitment, training, performance management, career planning and promotion, compensation and benefits, and retirement and severance. “Each one of them has to work in order to make the capacity and competence of the civil servants match with their job requirements,†according to Dr. Hussain.
Clusters will be created as part of the induction process, where for example those who want to qualify for the financial services, audit accounts, taxation, or commerce and trade will have to take electives papers in finance or economics. Moreover, those who want to opt for the police service will be required to take two electives in criminology and criminal procedure court. Similarly, for the foreign service, international relations and diplomacy will be required as the two elective papers. Dr. Hussain adds that the aim is to bring in some kind of partial specialisation.
Moreover, out of 29,000 officers working in the federal government in Grade 17 to 22, 23,000 officers are ex-cadre or non-cadres, who are doctors, engineers, economists and agriculture researchers. According to Dr. Ishrat Hussain, in an era where knowledge and innovation drives economic growth, it is important to train these officers and ensure that promotions are dependent on performance and training. This should also be complemented with evaluation based performance management that rely on verifiable key performance indicators rather than a subjective criteria.
Dr. Ishrat Hussain also explained that mismatch between performance and compensation has been a major issue. As part of the civil service reform, 71000 vacant jobs were abolished to spend on civil services and ensure that the structure of compensation is based on fairness and equity.