Daily Archives: November 21, 2010

Its The Efficiency Stupid!

By D. Asghar

Our beloved Premier Gilani has issued an executive order to curtail the two day weekend to a one day weekend in the government offices. The move on the surface seems to be of well intentions and to increase and enhance productivity.

This is also due to the fact that electricity is not a major issue in winters and hence the business of the government can be conducted in a more conducive and viable environment. The underlying issue here in my opinion is not the weather or number of days. The bigger issue is lack of proper metrics to measure productivity.

In this day and age, where we are in the electronic age, very sadly a lot of public departments are still running on paper and antiquated filing system. If you were to go to the offices the lines of people in front of government offices speak volumes of our inefficiency. The vultures in the form of agents are trying to take advantage of the people, who are ill informed. The people are trying to cut the red tape to get on with their lives.

Skeptics call this process of inefficiency with an often heard and despised term, bureaucracy. No matter where you are, in whatever part of the world, you have to go through some of this to get your need fulfilled. However, in our part of the world we are still functioning on the post colonial paradigm, and in 63 years or so, there has been a minor shift.

The government for all intents and purposes is an enterprise. Collecting revenue and incurring expenses. With the old and outdated ways still not able to fulfill the needs of its ultimate customer, the public.

There is a lot of hue and cry every minute about the incessant and ever increasing corruption in every department of our beloved government. Very rarely, we focus on the facts that it is meager salaries in a lot of areas and excessive inefficiencies which give birth to this ugly monster of corruption.

In todays day and age, any service can be initiated electronically by opening a ticket. The customer gets notified that their request has been lodged in a proper queue. The queue has to be managed internally by the appropriate department of the government with proper checks and balances. It is transparent and curtails the possibility of misuse. When people will be terminated on the spot for any misuse, it will set the zero tolerance culture for corruption automatically.

Similarly the public should have information on every departmental website to determine what the requirements and steps are to complete their request. There should be no mystery surrounding the service being offered by the department.

We often look at other countries and wonder why those countries have moved ahead and we are still lagging. One of the reason is that we have failed miserably in managing people’s business as a business. The government still functions in the colonial mind set that it is bestowing a mercy on the public by fulfilling their genuine needs. In reality, it should be the other way around.

If proper measures are not in place and there are no metrics to measure efficiency and productivity, it would not matter even if the government functions 7 days a week. The end result will still be the usual frustration, disgust and anger which the nation very rightfully demonstrates at the mention of the word, “government.”

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Lies- right and left- about Faiz Ahmed Faiz

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

This is a short post connected to Faiz’s death anniversary. As most of you are aware I consider Faiz not Iqbal to be the national poet of Pakistan.  The contribution of Faiz Ahmed Faiz to Pakistan right from the inception of the new nation is second to none.

Yet crooks on the right and the left have a habit of lying about Faiz Ahmed Faiz.  Both these groups claim – quite inaccurately – that Faiz Ahmed Faiz was implacably opposed to the creation of Pakistan, quoting his “Subh-e-Azadi” as evidence. Subh-e-Azadi, written some time after partition and not on the night of independence as some geniuses would have us believe, was written not as much about partition as it was about the meaninglessness of independence which did not bring about a socially just and egalitarian order which was the cornerstone of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s politics. Continue reading

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Time for a consensus on economic policy

Raza Rumi

The recent decision of the federal cabinet to rationalise General Sales Tax (GST) and levy a one-time flood surcharge are much-needed reforms to bolster Pakistan’s elusive and perhaps unattainable ideal of economic self-reliance. A state, which has perfected the art of collecting and negotiating rents for its strategic games, is least interested in creating a redistributive welfare state.

The emergence and fortification of a rentier state, therefore, is neither peculiar nor new as phenomena. However, it has now come to haunt the future of the country due to the evolution of rent-seeking culture, which is almost a way of life. We need no half-baked perceptions-based studies from abroad to know that crude and sophisticated forms of corruption are now embedded in our public life. From the delivery of a basic service to the purchase of a submarine, this is the way the country functions. The elites have strengthened trends such as tax-evasion and made them legit mechanisms of governance and public affairs.

Tragic that the world leaders such as Hillary Clinton had to remind Pakistanis about how they were not willing to pay up in the face of the 2010 floods devastation and were continuously looking towards the West and international community at large. Such a debate should have emanated from Pakistan’s Parliament and its patriotism-obsessed media. But this did not happen as all barons are averse to paying taxes in this country. Continue reading

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