LAHORE: As many as 18 departments will be housed in the planned south Punjab “mini secretariat” though the issue of selection of a city for setting it up has become more complicated for the provincial government because of the jumping in of Mr Jehangir Tareen who reportedly wants the establishment at Lodhran.
Earlier, Executive Council on Creation of South Punjab Province chairman Chaudhry Tahir Basheer Cheema wanted the mini secretariat in his hometown of Bahawalpur, and the chief minister and the bureaucracy believed it should be set up in Multan for a better liaison with the seat of the provincial government in Lahore.
Officials on Sunday said there was also the third option for establishing the secretariat at Lodhran.
Those wanting the secretariat in Multan argue that the expected opening of the Lahore-Multan motorway on February 15 would reduce the travelling time between the two cities by three hours. This would facilitate communication between Lahore and the mini-secretariat.
They say that initially the authorities had proposed the secretariat could be established in the Cotton Research Institute in Multan. But the idea was dropped and now the New Kutchery on the city periphery was being pointed out as the best possible location for it.
The buildings of the courts (kutchery) were constructed over 100 kanals in 2015-16, but the local lawyers and judges posted in Multan had found it unsuitable for the purpose and they returned to the old premises in the city. Since then, the New Kutchery had been lying vacant and could be used for setting up the mini-secretariat without any hassle, an official said.
“Selection of the city is very important but the issue has become complex because of the diverse opinion by those who matter now in Punjab. Every group has its own justifications. Let us see what happens,” a senior official said.
Meanwhile, sources said the government has started planning how to attract officials to the south Punjab mini-secretariat from Lahore where they have official residences, proper conveyance and good educational institutions for their children.
In this connection, the sources said, several incentives for officials were being planned. One of them was to give the officials secretariat allowance like being given to those working in the provincial civil secretariat, besides additional pay, proper residence and good vehicles.
The sources said nearly 150 posts of the 18 departments to be housed in the mini-secretariat had been initially created. The secretariat would function under an additional chief secretary. Each department would be represented by a special secretary, having a team of two additional secretaries, four deputy secretaries and four section officers. Every team would have supporting staff.
The departments that would function there included planning and development, health, education, irrigation, communication and works, finance, local government, housing, women development , energy and agriculture.
Sources said at present the authorities were considering the financial limit of approval of development schemes by the mini-secretariat. The P&D department was of the view that the mini-secretariat should be allowed to approve development schemes up to Rs200 million. Another view was to raise this limit to Rs500 million, authorising the P&D Board to sanction schemes over and above this ceiling through the provincial development working party in Lahore.