Islamabad: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government quickly expressed their approval of the federal government’s June 13 proposal to raise the retirement age of government servants from 60 to 63. The Punjab government, however, has said that it needs time to consider the proposal.

Last week, a letter was sent from Islamabad to the federal finance division conveying Prime Minister Imran Khan’s proposal to assess the possibility of extending the age of retirement of government servants. The letter asked the federal finance division to consult with the establishment division and Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the issue, seeking a unified report within two days.

The Punjab government, through its provincial finance department, has written to the federal finance division about its inability to quickly respond to the federal government as they are currently busy with the budget, and would be able to give its “well considered” view on the issue in July.

The provincial government has also said in its correspondence that if found unsuitable it would disagree with the proposal.

Punjab is the biggest province of the country, with a population of 100 million and with more government servants working there than in the rest of the country. In the education department alone, there are more than 500,000 teachers in the province’s schools and colleges. Similarly a large number of clerks and other low-grade employees are employed in other departments and ministries of the province.

The proposal was to be considered by the federal government and the two provinces — Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab — where the prime minister’s PTI rules.

According to the finance ministry, if the proposal is accepted and the retirement age is extended, it would save around Rs72 billion (Dh1.68 billion) as every year around 25,000 government servants retire in Punjab alone and the government has to pay them huge amounts in pension, gratuity and other bills.

Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s legal, finance and administrative departments are also required to give their input on the proposal.

However, some circles oppose the proposal saying it would deny promotions to many government servants as their senior officers would not retire once the law is implemented.

The Punjab government has taken up the matter with its concerned departments and it has been agreed that the issue needs a thorough look since it involves huge financial, human resource and administrative repercussions.

Interestingly, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on June 14, a day after the receipt of the letter, approved of the proposal.

Chief Minister of the province Mahmood Khan claimed that it would save Rs24 billion for the province annually.

Later, Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai told reporters the retirement age for government employees in India’s education and health sector was 65, while employees in some countries retired at the age of 67.