Vol. 4 Num 163 Thu. November 06, 2003  
Front Page

Contractual appointees on lobbying overdrive as contracts near expiry

Contractual and political appointees in the civil administration are lobbying the government for extension of their service as the contracts of several dozen top and mid-level officials expire in the next two months.

Many senior ministers and influential officials at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) are avoiding regular office hours as 'lobbying overkill' has made their lives 'miserable'.

A record three dozen secretaries are on contractual service currently, of whom 15 are to retire in the next two months.

The four-party alliance government has recently given a wave of repeat extensions, blocking the promotion of mid- and entry-level officials.

The tide of appointments on contract has left only a few regular officials, including three CSP officials, in secretarial positions. Of them, Cabinet Secretary Sa'adat Husain goes on a leave preparatory to retirement (LPR) on November 23.

Of the contractual officials, Water Resources Secretary Mohammad Saifuddin, on a first term contract, retires on November 25, Planning Commission Member Shah Mohammad Farid, on a third term contract, on November 20, Privatisation Commission Member Karar Mahmudul Hasan on November 7 and Parliament Secretary Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed, on a second contract, on November 30.

The first contract of the president's Secretary Anisul Haq Chowdhury expires on December 14, second contract of Education Secretary Shahidul Alam on December 10, third contact of Local Government Secretary AYBI Siddiqi on December 31, second contract of Primary and Mass Education Secretary Tahmina Hussain on December 30 and first contract of Power Secretary SM Shamsul Alam on December 25.

Over half a dozen secretaries also retire in January.

The contractual service of several political appointees in different organisations, including four officials at the press wing of the PMO, will expire by the year-end. A deputy press secretary is lobbying different ministers with stories of his success in the last two years for an extension.

Sources said despite growing rancour in the civil administration, the government was pondering fresh contractual appointments to some vital posts.

But the government may not opt for a large number of political appointees unlike in the past, they added.

"It has become very difficult to sit at my office as calls are pouring in by red, blue, green and white telephones simultaneously with requests for extension of contractual jobs," said a political secretary at the PMO.

"Lobbyists are even making beeline for my home early in the morning, after iftar and even after Ramadan Tarabi prayers at night."

A leader of the opposition visited the PMO recently to lobby for the extension of service of a top official, he added.

A senior minister on condition of anonymity told The Daily Star that he had to spend a lot of time both at home and office with extension aspirants and their lobbyists.

"Extension of service entirely depends on the PMO as its officials are more powerful than any senior minister," he said.

The minister observed that the government made a serious mistake by giving large-scale contractual appointments.

The appointees now try to show that they are highly pro-BNP and the government needs them at offices to pursue its agenda smoothly, he said, adding many aspirants were using more than one political lobbyists to pursue their cases.