- Encouraging results in providing good governance
The concept of good governance centres on the responsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of the masses as opposed to select groups in the society. It involves a process of decision making and the implementation of those decisions through the state institutions created for the purpose. The major attributes and characteristics of good governance universally acknowledged and advocated are responsiveness of the system of governance to the public needs, sensitivities and complaints.
If we apply the foregoing touchstone for judging the quality of governance and review the current situation, we can safely infer that over the last 20 years the people have endured bad governance. It is however encouraging to note that the PTI government, which sought the mandate of the people on the basis of its narrative to curb corruption and give the country good governance, sticking to its pledge with the people, has shown unflinching commitment to not only bringing reforms to plug the avenues of political and systemic corruption but is also working with unruffled focus to make the lives of the people comfortable by ensuring that their complaints and grievances against the government departments are attended and taken care of without any loss of time.
In this regard Pakistan Citizens Portal was launched on 28 October 2018 by Prime Minister Imran Khan. It was the first positive move that marked the beginning of country’s march towards good governance. This arrangement for on-line registration of complaints by Pakistanis, whether living in Pakistan or abroad, was the first of its kind in Pakistan. The citizens were able to register their complaints through an app which runs through Beta Android version. The government also envisaged inclusion of IOS version so that the citizens who were using iPhones could also register their complaints through the devices possessed by them. The arrangement ensured one-click access to 7000 government offices of the federal and provincial departments through the portal. The system ensured that the complaints lodged by the citizens automatically reached the heads of the concerned departments. The citizens could also upload videos, audios and picture files in support of their complaints. The heads of the departments were bound to settle the complaints within ten days of their receipt. A complaint registered by a citizen also became immediately available at the dashboards of the ministries and departments. The system also enabled the citizens to provide feedback to the government and rate their complaint resolution. The Prime Minister has been personally monitoring the whole exercise, as all the departments and ministries were required to send regular reports to him to keep him abreast about the working of the system. Elaborating on the system on the eve of its inauguration he had said that the system would make the bureaucrats, ministries, government employees and MPs accountable, besides addressing concerns of the investors. He said that the citizens would also be able to lodge complaints about private institutions.
The system put in place by the government has shown very encouraging results, not only in addressing the public complaints but also with regards to the accountability of the government officials. Hopefully, with further envisaged improvements in the system, including web-access to citizens not having android phones, putting in place an inter-departmental conflict system and ensuring transparency and openness of the government through Open Government Portal-Strategy Document, it will become even more effective in dealing with public complaints and improving governance
An incisive look into the structure raised for handling the online complaints and its envisaged objectives reveals that the system has worked with great efficiency. During the one year since the system became operational, it handled 1.23 million complaints and resolved 1,057,334 of them showing a success rate of 86 per cent. The break-up of the percentage of complaints resolved by federal government, and the governments of Punjab, KPK, Federal Capital, Balochistan, GB and Sindh is 92 per cent, 88 per cent, 87 per cent, 89 per cent, 79 per cent, 72 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. As is evident the percentage of complaints addressed by the federal government and the provinces where PTI governments are in place is much higher than the province of Sindh, indicating the difference in commitment to resolve the public complaints. The major complains pertained to police, land revenue, education and health.
It is pertinent to point out that attention was not riveted only on addressing the complaints of the aggrieved parties and individuals, but the government officials responsible for showing indifference to the public complaints were also held accountable for their inaction. A number of high-ranking police officers in Punjab were suspended. Five officers of the rank of deputy commissioner were issued warning letters, three assistant commissioners were suspended while 20 were conveyed the displeasure of the government. More than 60 officers of the Local Government department and 22 functionaries of the Education department were issued show cause notices. An Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax Department has been suspended for showing slackness in resolving the complaint of a citizen and harassing him. The Prime Minister has ordered the FBR to complete the inquiry within 21 days.
To make the system more effective and efficient, the Prime Minister has decided to take strict action against government officials not showing seriousness in resolving public complaints. All the ministries and departments have been asked to constitute five-member committees to monitor the dashboards of the appointed officers and submit their reports to the Prime Minister Secretariat within 30 days. The committees have also been assigned the responsibility of pinpointing inadequacies with regards to the resolved and unresolved complaints besides fixing responsibility for good and bad performance.
With regards to 85,000 complaints lodged by overseas Pakistanis the cabinet has approved the constitution of a high-powered committee charged with the responsibility to resolve all the complaints within three months and present its report to the Cabinet.
According to the figures compiled by concerned authorities, in the civilian domain the registration of 47000 citizens was suspended on provision of invalid ID cards and there was also a drop of 121,000 complaints pertaining to court matters, political issues, domestic matters, service matters, classified matters, and sensitive issues during the last one year. The foregoing facts surely testify to the fact that the system put in place by the government has shown very encouraging results, not only in addressing the public complaints but also with regards to the accountability of the government officials. Hopefully, with further envisaged improvements in the system, including web-access to citizens not having android phones, putting in place an inter-departmental conflict system and ensuring transparency and openness of the government through Open Government Portal-Strategy Document, it will become even more effective in dealing with public complaints and improving governance.