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.

Southasia - - MALÉ - By Shehryar Aziz

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.

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