PESHAWAR: After an amendment to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Servants Act, 1973, around 94,000 employees of the provincial government were given on Tuesday the right to pension and gratuity on retirement from service.
The provincial assembly unanimously enacted ‘the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Servants (Amendment) Act, 2013,’ substituting Section 19 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Act No XVIII of 1973.
The new law will culminate the provincial government’s Contributory Provident Fund Scheme, which was introduced in 2005.
The scheme had been introduced through a legislation that withdrew the right to pension and gratuity from the provincial public sector’s thousands of employees appointed in the provincial public sector after July 1, 2001.
Appreciating the provincial assembly for providing passage to the proposed amendment, Pakistan People’s Party’s parliamentary leader Abdul Akbar said: ‘Today is a historic day as thousands of employees got their constitutional right restored with the elimination of CP Fund.’
The scheme had been introduced with an aim to control the provincial government’s growing pension bill that consumes billions of rupees every year.
It stands abolished following the enactment of the new law whose sub-section (1) of the substituted Section 19 says on retirement from service, a civil servant shall be entitled to receive such pension or gratuity as may be prescribed.
The sub-section 2 says: “In the event of death of a civil servant, whether before or after retirement, his family shall be entitled to receive such pension or gratuity, or both, as may be prescribed.”
The assembly amended the law after its standing committee No 2 on law reforms and control on subordinate legislation in its report on CPF declared it a violation of the Constitution, terming it discriminatory.
“It is pertinent to mention that this discriminatory law is only applicable to the employees of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and does not exist in the centre and other provinces,” says the standing committee’s report, which was placed before the House on Tuesday with a request to pass the draft amendment to the Civil Servants Act.
The committee submitted its findings after the House asked it on August 31, 2012, to examine the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2012. Treasury members of the provincial assembly Abdul Akbar Khan and Israrullah Gandapur had tabled the draft bill before the provincial assembly on May 1, 2012.
Both the legislatures are on the House committee that examined the draft bill and requested the assembly to enact it in the larger interest of thousands of employees and their families.
In its report, the committee noted: “The CP Fund scheme is not only discriminatory but also against the fundamental rights of individuals as outlined in the Constitution of Pakistan.” It noted further that the CPF scheme should be abolished because it was ‘full of snags as no employee has so far been allotted any CP Fund number and no account code has been given.’
“Furthermore, no specific rules have so far been framed,” according to the committee’s report that also mentioned that “there is no interest on CP Fund deductions (made from the government employees’ salaries) while the receipt is utilised for investment by the Government.” The committee informed the House that the care taker chief minister had announced the abolition of the scheme, but the move could not materialise.
The committee also lodged a complaint, in its report, against the Establishment and Finance departments, pointing out that ‘the grievances of the government servants increased’ because of them. It reported that the chief minister had directed the two departments to ‘examine the issue on priority,’ but the matter was delayed. On its recommendation, the provincial assembly also passed the proposed sub-section (5) of Section 19 of the Civil Servants Act, 2013.
The new sub-section makes it binding on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Establishment department to remove any difficulty, if occurred, in the way of materialising the move.
It says: “In case any difficulty arises in giving effect to any of the provisions of this section (the substituted Section 19), the secretary to Government, Establishment Department shall constitute a committee comprising of the secretary to Government, Finance Department, Secretary to Government Law Department and Accountant General, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for remove of the difficulty.”