Union ministers, top officials return to offices from Monday. It’s a message
Union ministers and all senior officials will again start going to office from Monday, government functionaries told HT, marking a step towards normalcy in the government establishment even as the lockdown is all set to be extended.
According to two officials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked all ministers to start working from office from Monday, a move that is also aimed to instil confidence among the people about how the government establishments are limping back to normalcy even as social distancing and other health norms will remain firmly in place.
Senior functionaries said that officers of joint secretary and above ranks will be mandatorily working from office.
“In addition, one-third of essential staff will come,” said a secretary-level officer.
While the non-essential staff has not been asked to come, the essential staff who stay near the office will be asked to come, according to the official. There will also be a rotation system for the essential staff to ensure everyone gets a chance to stay at home and also meet the obligation of coming to office.
Since the lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Modi on March 24, many ministries have been working with just 3-5% of their actual strength, with employees unable to come, and followed the health guidelines.
While most of the staff had to remain confined to their homes, top officials often came to office especially since the financial year was coming to an end.
Ministries had to file their expenses and submit vouchers to the virtual expenditure logbook of the finance ministry to show how much money they have actually spent in the FY19-20.
“The closure of accounts is of vital importance in the government system. Otherwise, release of money would get stuck. So, only a handful of officials would come to office — which is hardly 3-5% of our usual strength to primarily work on the annual closure of accounts,” said an official.
Another officer added that while the top brass of the ministries was physically not present, all of them have been working from home and had a pressing schedule especially in handling the crisis situation and ensuring that government’s aid and help reaches the right beneficiaries.
Officers held their meetings through the NIA-promoted video conference and files were moved and cleared through the e-office tool.