Bureaucratic privileges during an austerity drive | Pakistan Today

Bureaucratic privileges during an austerity drive

  • How bureaucrats retain their privileges

The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since long remained the stage for international conspiracies, politics and natural calamities. At one time it would be a victim of millions of Afghan refugees pouring into it due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and at another, 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.

Such an emergency like situation has resulted in a deterioration in the quality of governance, weakened public service delivery and resultantly, the life of ordinary citizens became more difficult.

Such a 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.

we as a nation would excel when our bureaucrats would consider themselves public servants responsible for efficient and effective public service delivery and when the legislators stop poking their nose in the development portfolio

an attempt has been made to find out the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the government interventions for improving the living standards of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and is given below.

Elected Representatives/ Legislators: Intervention in the development portfolio is 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 bureaucrats in the provincial government abdicated from this primary function in favour of the elected representatives, the MNAs, MPAs and Senators who enjoy their say in development interventions instead of performing quality legislation. This clear violation of the principle of separation of power has made the bureaucrats of the P&D redundant. Cemented roads are getting re-cemented on the principle of obliging the voters. The Prime Minister 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 bureaucrats. 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 of the ADP schemes: A concept of going below the bid value has developed in the KP departments. Contractors have been witnessed offering more than 50 percent below the bid value and that bid getting accepted by the executing agencies. This trend needs to be re-examined by the authorities in two respects; firstly, are the estimates in the schemes exaggerated? If so, then it comes under the definition of loss to the state exchequer. Secondly, is the quality of work is compromised? Why do accountability organization stick only to the notion of assets 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, reckoned by many as a super-bureaucrat realized the reason for the backwardness of the province and that the remedy out of it was to buy Fortuner jeeps for all the bureaucrats in the province. We in the 21st 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 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 bueaucrats in the province were given executive allowance, due to which their salaries were more than doubled. It was followed by a grant of the same allowance to engineers and senior police officers. A PMS officer receiving Rs 65,000 salary is now getting almost Rs 200,000 in 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 that her famine-sticken subjects should eat cake if they could get no bread.

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