Senate Committee Scrutinizes Hiring Practices In KP’s Health Sector: Focus On Ex-FATA
The Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) was briefed by a health official who stated that 230 vacancies of different medical specialists are vacant in the districts of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (ex-FATA) and no hiring has started on these positions so far.
Health officials from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province told the Senate committee that there is a shortage of ambulance vehicles in the merged (ex-FATA) districts of KP and the government is planning to purchase 50 more ambulances for countering emergencies. They added that the KP health department is offering Rs 0.45 million as salary for doctors with a specialized background and Rs 0.3 million for medical officers to ensure better health facilities in the conflict-affected region.
The committee discussed the issue of doubling the quota in the National College of Arts (NCA) for students of the merged districts, on which the officials responded that there are various barriers to implementing the doubling of the quota. The chair mentioned that doubling the quota was the decision of the federal cabinet and should be implemented in a true sense. The committee decided to call the Chairman Higher Education Commission and the head of the college for an official briefing on the issue.
Further, the committee was briefed by the Additional Chief Secretary KP regarding the supplying of Sui gas in merged districts of the province. He added that supplying gas to these areas was approved by the federal cabinet but the relevant ministry didn’t inform them regarding this approval. On this issue, the committee decided to call the concerned officials of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL) for a briefing.
The Senate panel was also briefed by officials regarding the general status of development in the terrorism-hit tribal region. Officials stated that the government is focusing on development in these regions and 16 billion rupees have been already approved for development. The senate body lamented the load-shedding of electricity in tribal areas and directed the officials to work on this issue. On this the officials responded that in tribal districts the demand for electricity is 800 MW while the system has only a capacity of 200 MG. The body directed the officials to strengthen the infrastructure of electricity in the area on an emergency basis.
The parliamentary body also examined the issue of illegal hiring of people in the health sector of the Khyber district in violation of the Public Procurement Regulation (PPRA). To this the health officials of KP said that they have been transferred and show cause notices have been served to them all. The committee suggested that the account branch representative should be called to the next meeting to help delve further into this scam – particularly to examine how it came to be that people were recruited in violation of PPRA and no advertisement was placed in any newspaper regarding these positions. The chair of the committee decided to call the Chief secretary and Secretary Health of KP for briefing on this illegal recruitment of people in the health sector. Furthermore, the committee noted that a mafia is active in the area, which is illegally hiring people in violation of PPRA regulations.
The author is a reporter based in Islamabad.