October 19, 2019

Governance challenges

As a junior minister in the cabinet of then Prime Minister Gilani, I raised my concerns and asked the president and prime minister not to overthrow the LG system. In fact, I presented a proposal for direct LG elections to elect mayors and the return of districts to countries.

Since 2008, the provinces have been transferred Rs13,453 billion. What does this mean in simpler terms? It means that in the last ten years, provincial CMs must be responsible for the government of Pakistan. In the absence of the LG system, the provincial CMs acted as crown princes and this system continues to date.

In my opinion, there are six key areas that a common citizen can use to judge government performance.

Unfortunately, we see little effort in the media or academia to study and suggest reforms in provincial government structures. If we take a look at the business rules of the federal government and provincial governments, we see a big difference; In the federal government, the powers are fairly well distributed between the Office of the Prime Minister and the ministries, while in the provinces, the prime minister is an absolute monarch. The powers of the CM obtain a new impulse due to the lack of capacity of the provincial legislation and the limitations of the checks and balances in the provincial hierarchy.

We have to rethink this model: should we go back to the previous model and reverse the 18th Amendment? No way. The new LG systems introduced in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are steps in the right direction, although personally I am a critic of the excessive size of local government in both proposed systems. I think they will eventually fail the system. However, it is better to have something than nothing. Both Punjab and KP provide directly elected tehsil mayors, but breaking the Union Councils and creating village councils is a great disaster, so we will pay in the coming years. Sindh and Balochistan should consider following the steps of Punjab and KP and putting LG systems back on their feet.

The business rules of provincial governments need revision, the positions of principal secretaries must be abolished and the provinces must follow the Islamabad Model, where each ministry is responsible for its functions. The powers of the CMs must be rationalized; He is the team captain, but considering his position as a one-man team is absolutely disastrous: the performance of the top ministers of the last ten years is a testament to that fact. Provincial assembly committees need to be modernized and must include professional contributions.

The reforms will never succeed if the ministries are not reformed. The key to success is the

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