Bani Gala Between Promise and Delivery
First came the 100 Day agenda and then the PTI actually came into power and its leader Imran Khan made a whole host of promises in the way Pakistan’s future government will be run. Now the test begins.
In a country where election manifestos are made just for the sake of having one, PTI went a step ahead and unveiled its 100 days agenda. Good that they did it, now that they will be running most of the government at the federal and provincial levels in Pakistan. A democracy that delivers is one that is accountable and for this reason it is appropriate to evaluate the agenda because the performance of PTI, in addition to all the promises that Imran Khan has made to the nation, will be judged by this agenda. There are seven themes in the agenda (though now they have been overtaken by other developments). Even then, it would be worthwhile to consider these themes and their sub-goals. The agenda contains all the good things that one would like to hear. The words farmer profitability, women development, national security, transparency, energy, health, education, tourism, CPEC, local government, accountability, FATA merger and south Punjab have all found place in the plan.
Under the theme, ‘Transform Governance’, the plan promises to bring accountability to the centre of government: ensure full autonomy for NAB and establish a special task force to recover looted national wealth parked in offshore tax havens. Recov Recovered wealth will be used for pove poverty alleviation programmes and for national n debt reduction.
M More than ever, it is imperative that in order to move forward, PTI must first introspect and examine the inne inner workings. After all, real failure is the failure to learn from one’s past mist mistakes. The next agenda item is, ““Empower people at the grassroots: Announce plan to roll out upgraded version of KP’s local government system; with powers and resources d devolved down to the village le level.”
This is another purpose that is quite applaudable. Again, th the party leadership needs to fir first answer, why its provincial gov government failed to announce a new Provincial P Finance Commission (PFC) Award? The provincial governm governments are quick to blame the federal government for the delay in finaliza finalization of a new NFC Award, but what is it that is holding them back from finalizing their own respective PFC awards and thereby empowering the local governments?
Then there are some promises which are too ambitious that they are destined to become fodder for the opposition in future, just like the promise of a billion trees tsunami. The first agenda item under the theme is of ‘Revitalizing Economic Growth: Unveil Pakistan’s most ambitious Job Creation Strategy to create 10 million jobs across five years”
To create 10 million jobs in five years means generating 5,479 job opportunities every single day, for five years, provided the government got down to it on its very first day in power. To offer some perspective, as per the Planning Commission, the $62 billion CPEC is expected to generate 0.8 million job opportunities in 15 years. And this is the most optimistic estimate out there; AERC puts the figure at 0.7 million and ILO at 0.4 million.
If a $62 billion of investment leads to 0.8 million jobs, the investment required to generate 10 million jobs would be $775 billion! Will the PTI succeed in generating the amount just for this purpose?
Another example of an overambitious agenda is that of revitalizing economic growth: “Launch the Prime Minister’s Housing programme, to build 5 million housing units for the middle and lower income segments in 5 years through the private sector.”
To build 5 million homes in 5 years, the required average comes to approx.
If a $62 billion of investment leads to 0.8 million jobs, the investment required to generate 10 million jobs would be $775 billion!
2740 houses per day, assuming again that the construction begins on day 1. Here it seems that the agenda framers have just tried to one-up the PML-N and PPP, whose 2013 election manifestos said that 0.5 million houses for the poor will be constructed under the Public-Private Partnership model (not even 1% of the targeted goal was achieved).
For a first time government, PTI performed commendably well in KPK on delivering on some of its promises. 50,000 students benefited from education voucher schemes under the public-private partnership model. On the front of ensuring access to agricultural inputs, a 100% budget for agriculture was utilized. The police in KP is an independent institution today.
While PTI's successes at the provincial level are undeniable, so is the fact that there have also been numerous failures. The registration of religious seminaries with educational boards could not happen; computerization of land revenue records was limited to a few districts; and a tripartite board consisting of employers, labour and inspectors to improve the plight of labour could not yet be established.
But failure isn’t fatal though failure to change might be. It is imperative that before a party makes new promises, it should first identify the onus of previous failures and then outline what it is going to do differently this time around, which will enable it to achieve new successes and do more of the same.
Advice to the party leadership: if you are planning to gift a horse, don’t promise a stable. Advice for the voters: Buckle up! It’s going to be a bumpy ride.