Ombudsman Punjab Maj (retd) Azam Suleman Khan presented the annual performance report of the Office of the Ombudsman Punjab for 2022 to Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman at the Governor’s House on Thursday. Advisers and consultants of the Ombudsman Office were also present on the occasion. Ombudsman Azam Suleman explained various aspects of the annual performance report, stating that the ombudsman office successfully resolved 29,970 complaints, out of a total 31,149, resulting in an impressive 96% resolution rate. Of those, 26,511 complaints were addressed within 45 days, while 3,459 applications took longer than 45 days due to some administrative factors. He highlighted that the effective handling of public complaints has resulted in a cumulative financial relief of Rs 13.842 billion for both plaintiffs and the government. This relief included the recovery of 29,363 kanals of state and private lands in various districts, valued at Rs 9.117 billion. The total financial assistance provided to the plaintiffs amounted to Rs 4.725 billion, he added. The ombudsman also provided a breakdown of the top 10 departments against whom his office received the highest number of complaints in 2022. The revenue department had a total of 5,584 complaints, followed by the police with 4,324 complaints, the Local Government & Community Development with 3,681 complaints, school education with 1,791 complaints, Housing, Urban Development & Public Health Engineering with 1,690 complaints, Primary & Secondary Healthcare with 1,461 complaints, higher education with 983 complaints, Communication & Works with 959 complaints, Accountant General Punjab with 946 complaints, and irrigation with 821 complaints. In addition, the ombudsman reported that 150 eligible complainants were provided with regular employment in provincial government departments by his office under Rule 17-A of the Punjab Civil Servants (Appointment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 1974. Apart from this, the Home Department carried out the province-wise verification of 1,044,062 arms licences on the intervention of the ombudsman office, Khan mentioned. Meanwhile, the Chief Provincial Commissioner for Children resolved 246 cases relating to violation of child rights and violence against them. It also constituted a working group of experts from the line departments to save children from online harassment or exploitation. This group advises the government about the protection of children’s rights, he said. During the presentation, Azam Suleman provided a comparative review of the years 2021 and 2022. He mentioned that there was a 73% increase in the number of complaints received in 2022 compared to 2021, with 31,149 new complaints received, compared to 17,968 in the previous year. Also, the proportion of complaints handled in 2022 was over 70%, compared to 2021, where 17,654 complaints were processed. The ombudsman office also provided Rs 13.842 billion in relief to the government agencies and applicants in 2022, a significant increase from the Rs 1.452 billion provided in 2021, he added. The law allows complaints against ombudsman decisions to the governor. In 2022, the governor accepted only 26 of 403 appeals, leaving a ratio of 99.12% of decisions remaining in force, he added. The ombudsman also provided an overview of the 26-year term, indicating that out of the 380,206 complaints registered from 1996 to 2022, a staggering 99.24% were successfully addressed, with 377,339 complaints resolved. This exceptional rate of resolving public grievances attests to the effectiveness of the ombudsman’s efforts, he stated and maintained that the role of the ombudsman office was critical in ensuring good governance, promoting public trust, and discouraging inefficiency and corr upt practices at the grassroots level.