May 08, 2017

CPEC cost-cutting

By Editorial

Published: May 8, 2017

The Pakistani government has concluded that it is paying its contractual employees too much money for their expertise and labour on projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) and the finance ministry have begun implementing a maximum salary cut of 33 per cent, which yields a high range. This is a prime example of a backwards government; instead of incentivising jobs for recruiting top talent and promising opportunities for growth — which is in the best interest of a developing country — the message being projected is that the government has little respect for talent and expertise.

Unjustifiable practices by the government continue: regular government employees are expected to receive 10-15 per cent salary increases in the 2017-2018 tax year. This is a high increase and seems like another ad hoc policy by the government without much rhyme or reason.


Pay scales should be revised annually for all employees. Updated rates, in all fairness, should be comparable to market rates and based on rises in inflation, which the Nawaz Sharif administration has hardly been able to control. Spontaneous salary revisions suggest the government is disorganised and lazy — but that was predictable. Fair salary packages should have been offered in the first place so as not to compel employees to consider giving up their contracts. On the contrary, surely a cut from contractual employees’ salaries means a larger share of the $46 billion investment from China is falling into someone else’s pocket.

It is rather asinine to reduce contractual employees’ salaries — in breach of contract — when the CPEC Secretariat is already short of talent. The move raises questions as to whether CPEC projects will be successfully concluded. The PM and his followers speak in glowing terms about the planned projects but their actions suggest their intentions might be different from what they portray on mass media to the people.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2017

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