ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has promoted 13 bureaucrats of different occupational groups to grade 22 on March 2 and 3, adding additional financial burden to the country’s already sinking economy in shape of promoted bureaucrats’ princely perks, privileges, salaries and other service benefits.
Sources said that the Prime Minister and a “chosen group” of senior civil bureaucrats held key promotions in the apex civil service of Pakistan. The general public which passes its lifetime experiencing the excesses and sometimes utter neglect from many of the bureaucrats has no say in these bureaucrats’ elevations during their service careers.
Such elevations in civil service are in stark violation of Pakistan’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption. This convention, signed by Pakistan in 2005, calls upon the signatory states to encourage and invite public participation in the fight against corruption.
If the high powered selection board chaired by PM himself which approves promotions to grade 22 makes public before promotions names of the bureaucrats likely to be promoted to grade 22 and invites evidence supported public comment on the eligibility or otherwise for the promotions under consideration, the best and most relevant judge to determine the propriety of promotions to grade 22 would be in the picture to help grant honour to the bureaucrats who serve the public truly as public servants and to withhold such honour from those who rule the public as their masters.
A senior official said that there was no want of law in the country, adding that what was missing was respect for and obedience to all those laws which just seem to embellish the pages of statute books.
One such disrespected and ignored law was made by the Parliament of Pakistan in 2017.
The law is Public Interest Disclosure Act, enacted to encourage and invite public participation in the battle against corruption, one of Pakistan’s international obligations under the UN Convention Against Corruption. But it seems the public interest disclosure act had been enacted to just show it on the pages of statute books.
In reality, the departmental heads to whom confidential public interest disclosures are to be addressed by the public have instituted no mechanism to maintain confidentiality of such disclosures and to take action accordingly as required by provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act, 2017.
Sources said that under the Act of 2017 which parliament had enacted to fulfill Pakistan’s international obligations under the UN Convention Against Corruption, public could make disclosures without any fear about the misuse of authority and corrupt practices of bureaucrats so that corruption could be stopped and prevented during its currency instead of half-heartedly proceeding against the bureaucrats after the conclusion of their corruption at a particular position or post.
Sources said that Pakistan was not benefitting from the preventive measures against corruption laid down in the UN convention because heads of the government departments were trampling underfoot the public interest disclosure Act, which was meant to benefit Pakistan from the UN preventive strategies against corruption now so widespread in Pakistan.
Sources said that the biggest financial gains from the UN convention could be realized by promoting public disclosures about and insulating the whistle-blowers from the wrath of FBR authorities as required by the public interest disclosure Act.
Sources said that a complaint under the Act disclosing massive abuses of authority and pervasive corrupt practices by two senior BS 21 custom officials now standing in line for promotion to BS 22 had already been made to the chairman FBR and other members of the high-powered board.
Sources told that the FBR chairman had taken no action on these evidence based public interest disclosures made before him in the complaint.
Sources said that the FBR Chief could render to this poor nation a great service and could identify instantly the points of massive revenue leakage and corrupt practice by his media announcement that the whistle-blowers who make public interest disclosures to him under the public interest disclosure Act, 2017 will be fully protected against retaliatory actions in accordance with the Act.
Sources said that presently senior BS 21 custom officers were led to treat their positions as rare and never recurring opportunities to make money by promoting widespread smuggling on roads as well as custom stations.
Sources said the FBR chairman could stem the rising tide of corruption in FBR and prevent massive government revenue losses just by his announcement that he will sincerely obey and act upon the provisions of the public interest disclosures Act.
Sources said that such an announcement from FBR head will also help build before him heaps of evidence, disclosing frauds and corrupt practices of and massive revenue losses caused by two BS 21 custom officers who are reportedly pressuring him to push them both before the high powered board for their promotion to BS 22.
Sources said Pakistan’s economy holding more than 10,000/ billion tax collection potential was awaiting FBR head’s green signal to open up its tax treasures and ameliorate the sinking economy of the country.
The benefits of UN convention against corruption so far lost to Pakistan could be regained by holding to account the high powered board members for undeserved promotions of civil servants to BS 22 by holding the chairman FBR accountable for not encouraging whistle blowers to identify massive revenue leakages and for not extending to them statutory protections against retaliation after they blow whistle on frauds prevalent in FBR’s field formations.