Bureaucratic privileges in the backdrop of austerity drive

(Syed Fawad Ali Shah, Peshawar)

The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since long remained a stage of action for international conspiracies, politics and natural calamities. At times it would be a victim of millions of afghan refugees pouring into it due to soviet invasion of Afghanistan and at other times, it would be faced with floods causing severe damage to the local infrastructure. It remained a victim of terrorism and the subsequent war on terror.

The result of such emergency like situation resulted in deteriorating the quality of governance, weakened public service delivery and reluctantly, the life of ordinary citizens became more difficult.

Such dismal situation of the people of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa required special attention from the federation for the rehabilitation of life in it. The federal government came up with different schemes for improving the lives of the people of the province, however, most of the time its intervention was in the shape of finances which unfortunately could not fetch the desired results.

In the following paragraphs, an attempt would be made to find out the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the government interventions for improving the living standards of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Elected Representatives/ Legislators:
Intervention in the development portfolio is though the baby of the planning and development and the executive authority who would develop an integrated development plan for the area and would be recommending interventions in the light of that plan. However, the babos in the provincial government renunciated from this primary function in favour of the elected representatives like MNAs, MPAs and Senators who enjoy their say in development interventions instead of quality legislation. This clear violation of the principle of separation of power has made the babos of the P&D redundant. Cemented roads are getting re-cemented on the principle of obliging the voters. The premier was against the say of the legislators in the development portfolio but has done nothing against it till date probably due to political expediency.

Quality of ADP schemes:
Examination of the Annual Development Schemes reveal that the primary motive behind the formulation of the schemes would either be the elected representative obliging the people in his constituency or in other schemes making project allowance, contract staff, luxury vehicles available to the babos. This approach towards development is a clear violation of the austerity measures scheme of the prime minister. Such schemes needs to be identified and rectified by the quarters concerned.

Costing in the ADP schemes:
A concept of going below the bid value has developed in the KPK department. Contractors have been witnessed offering more than fifty percent below the bid value and that bid getting accepted by the executing agencies. This trend needs to be reexamined by the authorities in two aspects; firstly, if the estimates in the schemes are exaggerated ? if so then it comes under the definition of loss to the state exchequer or secondly, if the quality of work is compromised. Why as an accountability organization we would stick only to the notion of asset beyond means and not for cases of loss to state exchequer due to poor planning or compromising the quality of work.

Perks of the Bureaucrats:
Recently, a new chief secretary in the province reckoned by many as super babo realized that the reason for the backwardness of the province and the remedy out is buying Fortuner jeeps for all the bureaucrats in the province. We in the twenty first century still believe that development in the province means spending on the bureaucracy and not on the people. The concept of public service delivery would remain a myth until we don``t change this sort of attitude. The nation reserves the right to ask whether the tax money and the IMF loans are for buying such vehicles or for poverty eradication through actual development. Is it not a clear violation of the Prime Minister``s policy of austerity measures.

Executive Allowance:
Recently the Babos in the province were given executive allowance due to which their salaries became more than doubled. It was followed by a grant of the same allowance to engineers and senior police officers. A PMS officer receiving sixty five thousand rupees salary is now getting almost two hundred thousand rupees salary. The same officers while drafting the upcoming budget suggested no or minimum increase in salaries to those who are neither receiving the allowance nor have perks or perquisites like them. It reminds us of the story of a queen suggesting cakes to its famine struck nation.

In a nutshell, we as a nation would excel when our bureaucracy would consider itself public servants responsible for efficient and effective public service delivery and the legislators stop poking their nose in the development portfolio. The federation needs to check these trends before making any expenditure in the province.

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