LAHORE:The Punjab government after giving 150 per cent salary raise to provincial bureaucratic elite has started to lay off daily wagers without caring for special persons in the name of austerity, reported The News.
In protest against the decision of the Punjab government, the visually-impaired staged a sit-in on Mall Road. The sit-in strengthened on Thursday when a group of special persons from District Pakpattan joined the protest.
As per a letter dated September 30, 2019, a copy of which is available with The News, the Punjab government has directed all Divisional Commissioners of the province and Deputy Commissioners not to hire staff on contingent basis from October 1, 2019. However, if any order has already been issued no further extension shall be given, the letter added.
The letter stated that Finance Department of the Punjab government has already circulated austerity/economic measures to observe utmost austerity in usage of public money through prudent financial discipline, judicious reduction of the expenditure without compromising the essential organisational function. Furthermore, the government in the letter observed that contingent paid staff is being hired unnecessarily that puts burden on the government exchequer.
Irony is that Social Welfare and Bait-ul-Maal Department whose sole responsibility is to care for the livelihood and rights of poor masses has started to lay off daily wagers, including handicapped, blind, deaf and dumb. Moreover, through protesters it was learnt that social welfare department is the first to act upon the government instructions. The protesters from District Pakpattan, including Qasim, Shahbaz, Younas, Sultan, Shafqat Ali, Imran, Bilal Ahmad and others (all disabled) said the government had dismissed their services without listening to them. They added the government had risked lives of their family members. They alleged that the local administration had ousted them just to accommodate persons of their choice.
Another protester while commenting on the situation said, “Look in front of us and see visually disabled persons, look at us we are physically disabled and look at the government which is mentally disabled.”
They protesters said that when they approach the office of Secretary Social welfare or DG Social Welfare, they were not allowed to meet them saying that big bosses have strictly ordered their staff not to allow us to enter their offices. A visually impaired person said that he has visited the office of the DG Social Welfare but no one heard his grievances and the staff mocked him.
Social Welfare Department Pakpattan Deputy Director Mirza Afzal while speaking to The News termed rubbished the claims of the protesters and said he was on his way to Lahore to handle the matter. He claimed that protesters were still on the pay role and their services were not dismissed.
Afazl added he was on receiving end and could only implement orders from higher authorities.
When asked about the letter of Punjab government and his contribution to the part of austerity apart from dismissing disabled persons, the deputy director had no answer.
Secretary Social Welfare Ambreen Raza, Deputy Director Saima Qureshi could also not be reached for a comment when contacted.
It is pertinent to mention here that on July 29, the Punjab government raised the basic running salary of provincial bureaucratic elite by 150 per cent. The notification benefited almost 1,700 posts, mainly occupied by PAS and PMS officers.