Pakistan News

New Drap rules and recruitment raises controversy

New Drap rules and recruitment raises controversy

ISLAMABAD: On the order of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has started the process of appointments in the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) by advertising 192 posts.

A bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk closed a lengthy suo motu hearing on the tangled affairs of DRAP on April 9 and directed the authorities to appoint “permanent directors” in its 13 directorates within 15 days.

But the new service rules notified by the ministry simultaneously have set the current 200 employees of DRAP worrying about their future and that of DRAP as well. They allege the new rules gag the employees from disclosing wrongdoings in DRAP and also violate the Constitution’s provisions.

Secretary Ministry of NHS Ayub Sheikh rejected their fears, though assuring that their “genuine grievances” would be addressed.

“I listened to them for two hours when they came to see me on Monday,” Mr Sheikh told Dawn. “I assured them that their grievances will be taken up at the next meeting of the policy board of the ministry of NHS.”

While the process of appointments cannot be stopped, he said “the employees will not be put in surplus pool”.

A notification will be issued in the next two days asking the employees to give their consent within 30 days if they want to stay with DRAP. “Otherwise too they will remain in civil service,” he said.

“I have been taking revolutionary steps to resolve issues of DRAP,” said Mr Sheikh, expecting DRAP to become “not only an ideal organisation within six months but also go for the ISO 9001 certification”.

An official of DRAP, requesting anonymity, disclosed that service rules were drafted and sent to the Ministry of NHS’ policy board and the Establishment Division for their consideration early this year.

“However, after the Supreme Court’s order this month to appoint permanent directors, the Ministry of NHS made and notified a new set of service rules and advertised the posts,” he said.

Tussle for prized posts had started with the creation of a Drug Regulatory Agency through an ordinance in February 2012 following the 18th Constitution Amendment that devolved several federal powers to the provinces. DRAP was established later through an Act of the parliament.

Under Section 15 of the Act, all employees and staff of the Drug Control Organisation were taken over by DRAP, with the status of ‘Civil Servant’ and protected from any action disadvantageous to the position, pay, privileges and benefits they held previously.

They were given 30 days to choose between being a civil servant or an employee of DRAP under its rules.

On April 24, however, new service rules were uploaded on the website of DRAP and simultaneously 192 posts were advertised.

Another DRAP official claimed that since only the prime minister can exercise the powers of the federal government under Article 90 and 92 of the Constitution, the Ministry of NHS “approving” the new service rules of DRAP was an unconstitutional act.

“Under the cover of the new regulation favourites will be appointed in DRAP. The policy board will have the authority to terminate the officers who do not carry out orders, even when illegal, without recourse to fair representation and justice,” he said.

“Moreover,” he claimed, “seats of civil servants who joined DRAP in 2012 will be abolished if they leave, resign or go back and direct appointments will be made in their places. There is no provision for civil servants to return to parent organisation. At best they will be put in surplus pool.”

His contention was that the new rule to fill 50 per cent of DRAP posts through promotion and the rest through direct appointments would curtail the chances of promotion for the incumbents.

“Then a selection board will have the final say in the promotions. It sounds illogical that bureaucrats decide technical acumen,” he added.

While talking to Dawn Secretary NHS Ayub Sheikh confirmed that a different set of rules was drafted but said it was not notified because of “some flaws” and new rules had to be made and have been published in the Gazette of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2015

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