Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Government's Idiotic Ban on Public Sector Employment

One of the first steps to be taken by the present government after assuming power was a ban on new employments to vacant positions in various Government deparments. I’m presuming this was done to prevent newly elected public representatives from handing out jobs to their chachay mamay.

Now the Government of Pakistan happens to be the biggest employer in the country and its organisational structure is such that it constantly needs to bring in new people. While I concede that in Pakistan, and perhaps everywhere in the world, government postings are used by new governments to repay political favours, I don’t think that a complete ban on a new government from employing people is a solution. In fact, a blanket ban is entirely inefficient and is proving to be counterproductive.

As an example I’ll use the ongoing saga within the Intellectual Property Office of Pakistan (IPO). The IPO, a cabinet division organisation reporting directly to the PM, was formed in 2005 . It is funded in large parts by the European Union and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), who are keen to see Pakistan improve its IP framework. IPO’s financial and professional appraisal is carried out by these international bodies, thus leaving less room for malpractice.

This year there will be a number of changes in the faces at IPO owing to the retirement of several key personnel. Most crucial has been the very recent retirement of the Registrar of Trademarks, Mr. Mohammad Mohsin and the Controller of Patents Mrs. Yasmin Abbassi. These two were regarded as generally being fair and honest public servants who were also quite capable at their jobs. Anticipating their departure, the IPO decided that it would publicly offer these jobs on a contractual basis, rather than reposting an existing government employee. (Govrenment employees were free to apply, just like everybody else.) The IPO was offering a pretty good package (over Rs.100k a month) but to candidates who were able to fulfil a stringent criteria and prove that they possessed expertise in the field. This was an ambitious and pleasantly surprising move (after all it is surprising when the Pakistani government makes a sensible decision!).

However, with the current ban on offering employment, the IPO a Federnal Body, is unable to hire anyone new to these vacant positions. Currently, the Registrar of Copyrights is handling all three offices. (As it happens the Registrar of Copyrights isn’t the brightest cog in the wheel: He was once handed a posting to Geneva by the government. He decided to take both his wives. Two days before he was due to fly someone in the government realised that he was taking two wives to a country where polygamy was illegal and his posting was cancelled.) Needless to say, the two departments have pretty much seized working.

But worse may well be in store. It now appears that no one new will be hired and we will see someone being transferred to these two departments. Considering the technical nature of the field, especially the Patent Department, it is more than likely the new Controller / Registrar will have little knowledge of what to do. And if he / she turns out to be corrupt we may well be in for a rough time (in the mid-90s a particularly corrupt man was appointed Registrar of Trademarks and almost managed to run most IP firms out of business). And I'm dreading the day the new democratically elected Government of Pakistan appoints 'public servants' to these positions. Vot a cuntree!


Ahsan said...

I'm curious about the registrar of copyrights. In particular, I'm curious about the flight he was supposed to take with his wives. Were they all going to take the same flight to Geneva? If yes, were they all going to sit together? If yes, who would get the aisle, window, and middle seats? If there was going to be some mile-high-club-joining, would both wives partake at the same time? If yes, could the poor airplane bathroom bear the brunt of two desi aunties in one small enclosed space at the same time?

So many questions, so few answers.

hmshore said...

I wonder why you feel so comfortable using the word "retarded"? It is terribly demeaning to people with special needs. You don't have to have a family member with special needs to know how slurs and stereotypes can hurt.
I don't want to take away your right to use the word. Just trying to give you something to think about with the hope that you won't use it again.
Best wishes.

AKS said...

@ hmshore

There was of course no intention on my part to demean or ridicule people with special needs. I have always equated the word retarded to idiotic without ever thinking the negative connotations associated with the word or realizing that it may be hurtful. Thank you for pointing this out to me and I will try to not use the word in this manner again.

This may of course take time and I may slip up - it's taken me a while to stop using the word 'gay' to refer to something that is lame, and I still manage to slip up at times.

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