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Fatemi to monitor cut in Pak missions, two-month deadline given

06 January, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Approving the closure of some foreign missions and abolishing dozens of posts under the austerity plan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has constituted a committee to ensure full monitoring and implementation of the decisions without giving any favours.

According to the summary of the Cabinet Division approved by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister has directed that the sub-committee headed by Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, shall act as Monitoring and Implementation Committee and submit its report on the implementation status of the decision after two months to the main committee. He also granted his approval that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ministries concerned shall evaluate and submit the performance report of incumbent officers presently working on various positions in Pakistani missions as per the terms of reference of the committee.

According to the approved summary, the PM approved that the Pakistani missions in Dublin (Ireland) and Santiago (Chile) would be closed down.

In addition, operationalisation of Consulate General in Bandar Abbass (Iran) and Mumbai (India) would be delayed for two years. However, in case of Indian approval to the Consulate in Mumbai, this mission would be opened.

The personnel strength of the mission in Washington DC, New York-UN, London, Astana (Kazakhstan), Damascus (Syria), Abuja (Nigeria), Glasgow (UK), Amman (Jordan) and Baghdad (Iraq) would be rationalised.

Local based employees are an integral part of the mission, as they are proficient in local language, sensitive to local culture and can perform many useful functions. However, in view of financial constraints, around 50 local based posts of staff would be retrenched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a gradual manner from the missions to ensure more savings.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall explore the option of getting residence for the non-diplomatic staff from BS-1 to BS-16 on mortgage basis according to which the government after payment of rent/installment for a certain period becomes the owner of properties.

The proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for conversion of posts of local based drivers into Pakistan based posts in some missions was not approved on the grounds that local based drivers can be hired for a particular period and they are better acquainted with local culture/routes, traffic regulation, language etc and are covered under the country's health insurance and other facilities.

Education Wings: The education wings in London and Manchester will be closed down. The education wing in Birmingham and Beijing shall be retained due to ongoing multidimensional cooperation.

The education attache posted to Beijing must obtain diploma in Chinese language.Community Welfare Attaches: The Community Welfare Attaches (CWTs) offices in London, Los Angeles, Houston, Oslo, Sydney, Pretoria and Toronto shall be closed down.

It was also decided that Community Welfare Wing in Tripoli shall be closed down and posts shall be transferred to Baghdad in view of increased job opportunities for the Pakistani labour force.

Press Wings: It was decided that press sections of Jakarta, Kuwait and Kuala Lumpur will be closed down. It was also decided that one post of BS-17 and BS-18 each of the Press Attache at London would be abolished.

The Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage would curtail its existing expenditures within the country and surrender the funds from its current year's budget as per 30 percent cut imposed by the Finance Division.

The Press Attaches posted in non-English speaking countries (Berlin, Kabul, Beijing, Cairo, Dhaka, Paris and Tokyo) must also undergo extensive language courses from NUML or any other institute in concerned languages before proceeding on the posting.

Trade Missions and Commercial Wings: The commercial missions in Athens, Baku, Santiago, Port Louis, Tripoli, Cairo, Mexico and OIC Trade Missions Jeddah will be closed down.

It was also decided that Commercial Wings in Madrid, Vancouver, Astana and The Hague would be relocated to new locations within the same country. The Ministry of Commerce would prepare a separate proposal in this regard keeping in view the investment and trade potential of the particular city.

In order to address the issue of overstaffing of the Commercial Wings, the Ministry of Commerce would retrench posts of staff from remaining commercial offices.The proposal to merge commercial wings with the economic wings in Brussels and Washington was pending till further consideration and recommendations by the Ministry of Commerce.

It was decided that the strength of officers at the WTO Trade Mission, Geneva would be scaled down to 1 Ambassador +2 officers with relevant reduction in the staff.Immigration and Passport Wing (IMPASS): IMPASS would gradually withdraw its staff from missions abroad over the next 12 to 18 months.

During this period, the consular staff of Diplomatic Wing would be trained in handling these works.The IMPASS would establish a station at consular section in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for training of outgoing consular staff of the Foreign Office and processing of diplomatic passports to the Foreign Office Officers and staff.

The Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs would identify focal points in their respective ministries to handle this transaction smoothly.For further expansion, the IMPASS shall depute a team to visit missions abroad, install the system and train the consular section staff within specified team.

Nadra: Nadra will maintain its operation at only 3 to 4 missions, having large Pakistani diaspora. No senior officers would be posted at these stations. In European countries (e.g. London) Nadra would carry out regular visits to nearby neighbouring countries, for provision of services to Pakistani diaspora.

Agriculture Counselor: The post of Agriculture Counselor Rome shall be abolished and its responsibilities be assigned to the Diplomatic Wing Rome.Haj Directorate Jeddah: It was decided that keeping in view the nature of Haj operation, the current strength of officers and staff shall be maintained for smooth functioning of Haj Directorate.

Defence, OM Wing, and Defence Production Wings: It was decided that Ministry of Defence and Defence Production, keeping in view the level of bilateral cooperation, with the host countries would rightsize their presence abroad. Both the above ministries would submit their separate recommendations, with the approval of their minister in-charge. It was further directed that rightsizing of Defence, OM Wings and Defence Production Wings may be definitely completed within two weeks. The rightsizing of IB positions in missions may also be completed within this period of two weeks.

The prime minister has directed all decisions shall be implemented and the whole exercise of closing down or shifting of the surplus staff shall be completed within two months in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By implementing these decisions, there would be annual savings of Rs2,019 million on per annum basis including Rs12,00 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rs55 million Education Wing, Rs135 million Community Welfare Wings, Rs54 million Press Wings, Rs518 million from Trade Missions and Commercial Wings, Rs40 million from Nadra and Rs17 million Agriculture Counsellor, Rome.


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