LAHORE - In a significant policy decision regarding service matters of its employees, the Punjab government would not strictly adhere to the leave rules in a bid to avoid brain drain which at the moment was depriving it of the services of able officers with foreign qualifications.  

In this regard, the Punjab government has directed all administrative and attached departments to decide the leave extension cases of officers on time to facilitate them improve their qualifications abroad. It was noted at the highest level of government that officers living abroad for higher studies were being penalised under PEEDA Act 2006 and some even had to face major penalties like compulsory retirement and removal from service. This resulted in brain drain as the government was the ultimate loser in this situation.  

It was observed that untimely and delayed cases of extension in leave lead to action under PEEDA Act and professional and technical manpower diminished. Doctors, teachers and engineers are awarded one of the major penalties provided in sections of the PEEDA Act, 2006 i e compulsory retirement, and removal from service or dismissal from service. Due to such situation, such persons, after removal from service, join private sector.

Now, the officers studying abroad or within the country, MPhil, PhD or FCPS or other postgraduate courses, their cases for extension in leave have to be decided on merit expeditiously. The S&GAD Regulation has notified in this regard.

As per above provisions of law, in case charge of absence from duty for more than one year is proved, no other penalty can be imposed except the penalties of compulsory retirement or removal from service or dismissal from service. It has been observed that the competent authorities grant leave to the officers for one or two years to improve their studies during service either under the Study Leave Rules or EOL (without pay) for the purposes of study.

However, extension in leave for study purposes was not timely decided for one or the other reasons. In such cases, the officers submit applications for extension in leave in routine and continue their studies without getting proper extension in leave. On the other hand, the authorities do not decide cases timely. Subsequently, such officers were declared absent from duty and proceeded against under PEEDA Act, 2006.

The provisions of awarding one of the three major penalties in the case of absence from duty for more than one year were included in the PEEDA Act, 2006 to enforce the discipline and to make the officers regular and punctual in their duties. However, where the officers have been allowed leave for the study purposes, their cases for extension in leave have to be decided on merit expeditiously.

A Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development official said that over three million citizens, including a good number of doctors, engineers and scientists have proceeded abroad for employment opportunities over the last seven years.

He said that majority of professionals declared poor salary packages and poor professional infrastructure as push factors besides threats of terrorism. Brain drain of such professionals is affecting public sector’s policies badly and those who wanted to deliver willingly in Pakistan had to face many actions even for completion of their studies.