Bureaucrats in Pakistan’s Punjab have once again come under fire for ignoring public complaints or delaying action on them, with many senior officials receiving show-cause notices from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
According to the PMO, show-cause notices and warning letters were issued to derelict officers for their lacklustre response or inaction towards public complaints registered on the Pakistan Citizen’s Portal, reports the Dawn.
Punjab information, agriculture, excise and irrigation secretaries have been asked to improve their performance, said an official press release issued on Sunday. Action was initiated after Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a cabinet meeting, took notice of the government officers’ inefficiency that some federal ministers had also pointed out, it added.
Punjab Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafiq meanwhile completed scrutiny of 1,586 officers’ dashboards and a PM’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) report was submitted to the prime minister.
According to the report, 263 officers were issued warning letters, seven were given show-cause notices and 833 officers were directed to be careful in future, while explanations were sought from 111 officers.
Performance of 403 officers was also appreciated in the report.
Letters have been written to 20 deputy commissioners, including those in Lahore, Gujrat and Sheikhupura, while show-cause notices were served on 43 assistant commissioners, including those of Raiwind, Jhang, Burewala, Sadiqabad, Nankana Sahib and Pindigheb.
Directing the officers to improve their performance, the PM Office said the purpose of issuing warning letters was to caution them. “Steps are being taken to extend facilities to the people as per the prime minister’s vision,” the PM Office said.
According to the PMDU, more than 50 briefing sessions for the nominated focal persons had been arranged both at the PM Office and at the level of the organisations. Besides, circulation of a well-drafted ‘User’s Guidelines Manual for Complaints & Suggestions Handling’ and a number of advisories have also been issued from time to time.
However, preliminary report revealed that complaints were neither handled according to the laid-down instructions in the manual nor decided at an appropriate level.
The report pointed out that quality of response to the citizens’ complaints showed that the system was left in the hands of subordinates, with majority of the decisions taken by them.
It identified that many resolved complaints were lacking letter/notification/picture, some were dropped on wrong pleas, many were decided at an unauthorised level and unnecessary time was wasted in submission of just a response to the complainant.
Absence of any cogent reason for no relief, assertion of relief or partial relief in contrast to actual situation and no reopening of complaints with negative feedback was also highlighted in the report.
The PMDU had asked the chief secretaries and inspectors general of police to initially conduct performance evaluation of the targeted officers’ dashboards through constitution of a dedicated committee under the chairmanship of an officer not below BPS-20. The committee had been asked to conduct performance evaluation of the assigned officers’ dashboard, identify loopholes and officers responsible for poor as well as best performance.
The unit has been directed to consider complaints as an instrument to bring improvement in any system. “It helps in identification of under-performing areas of service delivery that can be otherwise addressed timely. Complaints can also be useful in supervision and performance accountability of the concerned officers/officials,” said a document issued by the PMO.
It said Pakistan Citizen’s Portal had completed its one year and during this period, every effort had been made to improve the capacity of the ministries/divisions, provincial departments and organisations to properly handle complaints.