GILGIT (ET): The finance ministry of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has asked the G-B government to cut the workforce of the Public Works Department (PWD) by half in order to raise funds for development projects.
The suggestion has been made in view of shrinking development funds with the G-B government, officials of the finance ministry told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
PWD currently has over 4,000 employees on its pay roll, of whom a majority have been hired by successive government on contracts. A finance ministry official privy to the affairs of PWD claimed that a large number of these appointments have been made by politicians to appease their voters. He said that over Rs1 billion are spent on the salaries of these employees, adding that if 50 per cent of them are sacked, the government can save over half a billion rupees and use it to complete pending development projects.
The government pays Rs8 billion annually as salary to employees in various departments, an official of the G-B government said, requesting not to be named. Since the federal government has turned down the G-B government’s request for additional funds, the fate of a large number of these employees hangs in the balance, the official added.
In view of the Self Rule Order 2009, hardly 30 per cent of G-B’s total budget is spent on the development works, while the rest goes to official protocol, including those of the chief minister, the governor and his cabinet. The slow pace of development in G-B has affected many, especially the contractors who have time and again protested against non-payment of dues.
G-B Minister for Works Bashir Ahmed said the proposal to downsize PWD came under discussed in the G-B assembly in the preceding sessions. “However, no formal decision to this effect has been taken as yet,” he added.