Friday, September 30, 2005

Economic Decision Making Process

National Economic Literacy & Budget Analysis Group formed in PDI- Actionaid Workshop

Karachi: Leading economists, elected representatives and civilsociety activists Pakistan have observed that economic policydecisions are taken by the nexus of civil military bureaucracy, rulingclique and multilateral institutions in Pakistan with no participationof civil society, opposition political parties, academia and otherimportant sections of the society.

Such observations were made in a "National Consultative Workshop onEconomic Literacy and Budget Analysis" jointly organized byParticipatory Development Initiatives (PDI) and Actionaid Pakistan onThursday in a local Hotel. The participants of the workshop formed anational level civil society 'Economic Literacy and Budget AnalysisGroup [ELBAG] with the objective of ensuring involvement of the commonpeople in the economic policy making and budget analysis processesthrough action research, capacity building, awareness, publications,advocacy seminars, conferences, workshops and other policyinterventions.

Those participated in the workshop included Senator Prof. GhafoorAhmed, Ex-Snator Mr. Taj Hyder, Mr. Mohamemd Hassan Mihniti MNA, Mr.Peter Cosgrove of Agha Khan University, Dr. Ahmed Nawaz Hakro ofQaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, Prof Mushtaq Mirani of SindhUniversity, Mr. Nasir Mansoor of Labour Education Foundation, Mr.Ashfaque Qureshi of Sindh Development Society, Mr. Srtaj Abbasi ofRootwork Balochistan, Mr. Habibullah of Devcon, Mr. Hyder Hussian ofSocial Policy and Development Center ( SPDC), Mr. Zahid Mengal of AzatFoundation Quetta, Mr. Mueed Ahmed of SDPI Islamabad, Ms Tahira AKhan and Adam Malik of Actionaid Pakistan, Mr. Sikander Brohi of PDIand others.

The participants of the workshop observed that mega projects underPublic Sector Development Program are initiated under politicalconsiderations without properly looking into the merits and demeritsof such projects. In many cases projects are initiated withoutpreparation of their feasibility report and PC-1 especially in thecase the project is initiated on the instructions of Prime Minster,president or other influential government leader. In many cases theobjectives of the projects usually do not correspondent to PublicSector Development Plan. Project completion report [PC-4] is neversubmitted to the Planning Commission. Report of the actual benefitsrealized from a project [PC-5] is also not submitted to the planningcommission and political influence works during the process ofincluding the project in the PSDP.

They further said that in many cases Cabinet takes important decisionsin place of the parliament including decisions on trade policy,investment, industry agriculture etc. They said that Parliament is thesupreme body but the economic decisions made by the parliament arealso modified by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet.While discussing the role of multilateral donor agencies theparticipants observed that tying aid to specific projects by thedonors adversely affects the economic situation of the country. Forexample equipments and materials are to be purchased from the donorsand consultants are also hired from the donor country or institutions.Similarly Structural adjustment Programs, privatization andliberalization programs also affect the economy and hit the jobs andlivelihoods of the common people

They added that projects and programs are not usually formulated inthe national interest. The directives of prime ministers, insistenceof the donor community on certain programs and involvement of theministers and influences the decision making with regard to theproject / program initiation and funding

While discussing the budget process they said that no civil societyparticipation in the budget process. So-called discussions are heldwith only Chamber of Industries and Chamber of Agriculture. AssemblyMembers are not involved as they are handed over the documents on theday when the budget is presented in the assembly. Only two days aregiven to go through these technical documents, they added. They saidthat when the opposition members raise their voice during the budgetsessions ruling party members are compelled to oppose the suggestionsand objections of the opposition members even if the suggestions arevaluable. The assembly members have only authority of raising cutmotions. They have no authority for asking for the increase in thebudget of any sector. Even the Cabinet does not properly discuss thebudget as the documents are presented in the cabinet meeting, theyfurther added

In the conclusion the workshop participants recommended that civilsociety members, technocrats, opposition party leaders and therepresentatives of different sections of society should have properrepresentation on different economic decision making forums of thecountry including Planning Commission, Central Development WorkingParty (CDWP), Executive Committee of the National Economic Council(ECNEC) and National Economic Council (NEC). Civil societyorganizations, elected representatives and the representatives ofdifferent sections of society should be actively involved in thebudget making process right from the outset of the process. The elected representatives should be involved in the decisions withregard to taxation and expenditures in the budget and there should bea brainstorming session for the Assembly Members before thepreparation of the budget document. Parliamentarians should beinvolved in a more comprehensive way in the budget planning processthrough committees, debate, monitoring/oversight. Budget policies andpriorities should be set up at least 2 months in advance of the budgetspeech to allow full debate before the new fiscal year. Consultativecommittees comprised of elected representatives, civil societyorganizations and representatives of different sections of societyshould be established and should be chaired by the Ministers ofrespective departments, to allow continuous input into the budget.Discretionary powers of the executive as regards modifications to thebudget should be reduced and Parliament should approve anymodifications, including supplementary budgets, prior to expenditurestaking place. National security should be defined more narrowly toensure parliamentary accountability in defense budgets (e.g. salaries,administrative expenses, perks)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Punish Ghadars of Sindh

Punish Ghadars of Sindh
In order to ensure long term and sustainable revival of Sindh, Sindhis have to get their rights in Pakistan. Email writing and talking has to be translated into action—legal and democratic action.

The long-term decision makers are Islamabad. However, the next step has to be taken in Sindh itself. Own house has to be put in order. Millions of Sindhis have to do this together. They have to use stick and carrot. Stick has to be used against those Sindhis who have sold Sindh for their own personal gain. This applies to every corrupt government official from policeman to IG, from tapedar to Chief Secretary, and from beldar to Chief engineer. The bosses in Islamabad tolerate them and allow them to enrich themselves as they facilitate transfer of resources from Sindh.

I know Sindhis secretaries and politicians who are loved by Islamabad because they gave thousands of acres of urban Sindhi for peanuts for defense housing societies. These people released billions of rupees of Sindh budget in a moment for gaining personal favor. While the same people found hundred reasons for not releasing approved budget funds for schools and universities in Sindh. They have deprived Sindhis of billions in resources for small personal gains. They must be reminded about what they have done.

This also applies to every politician from union council member to Nazim, to MPA, MNA, minister, Chief minister and higher up. So many of our former corrupt civil servants, ministers and chief ministers end up with huge properties abroad and live happily thereafter, because Islamabad allows them to get away.

Overseas Sindhis have an obligation to inform law enforcement authorities in USA and other countries and help in getting them caught. This is the only way that other potential ghadars will know that they cannot swallow their ill-gotten wealth.

The nation has Ihtisab bureau in Islamabad. But it conducts ihtisab for benefit of Islamabad. Sindhi people have to conduct own ihtisab for protection of their legitimate rights. I am told that nearly every Sindhi official and politician is corrupt. Common people have no control over them. But I also know that the corrupt are notoriously weak hearted and cowards. For their own protection, they will do anything. Accordingly, if they realized that Sindhi people are serious about their ihtisab, their pants will get wet and will drop quickly. But for that to happen, Sindhis have to conduct serious ihtisab of at least some of the rotten. If people conduct ihtisab of ten rotten officials and politicians, the others will hide like rats and will come to their senses. If they realize that swallowing rights of others will not go unpunished, they will come to straight path quickly. MQM has proven that this solution can work. One will not find many muhajirs who will sell out other muhajirs. Altaf Bhai learnt this fact early in the game. Many other communities in the world have learnt and practice this lesson. Sindhis have to learn it too.

I repeat, the ihtisab or accountability has to be100% legal. If illegal means are used, it will fail. It can take form of exposure. Let Sindhis publish their own lists of ghadar and corrupt. Each one of you can write a list of ten corrupt ghadars that you know about—from clerk to chief minister. Make twenty photocopies and hand out in bazaar. Mao had used this technique during the cultural revolution in China. You can also send hundreds of applications to anti-corruption department. I know that the anti-corruption department is the most corrupt one. But still the corrupt officials do not like to see so many applications against themselves on file. Also, write names of the corrupt walls in your town at night. Let the ghadar and corrupt know that you know about them.

I believe that this ihtisab has to take place in every village, every town and city of Sindh. Once this starts happening, I am sure that media will pick it up and report it. The newspapers are hungry for news. First only Sindhi papers will pick up the news. Eventually, every one will pick up the news. Sindhis will find many supporters of this peaceful exposure movement. The Ghadars will get the message that Sindhis will not tolerate their sale out. In the process, Sindh may get some of the stolen wealth back. But at least, the ghadars will become scared.

The ihtisab can also be in the form of social boycott. Sindhis have a habit of honoring “important people”, no matter how dirty they are. Even in USA, when these corrupt and ghadar people come to SANA or WSI meetings, we give them respect. We also invite them for dinners and lunches. We overseas Sindhis in USA, UK and other countries have to set an example. We do not need anything from these corrupt ghadars. Why do we have to honor them? We have to shame them when they come here.

Sindhis have to learn to use carrot also. Sindhis have to recognize and stand by good people-- public servants and politicians. We have to honor, respect and defend the good people. We have to vote for them too so that they will come forward and make our revival possible. God willing, more and more good people will come to the forefront.

If Sindhis cannot use such stick and carrot in legal and democratic way, we better stop bitching and complaining.What more can we do for our revival? We have many trump cards which we can play in a democratic and peaceful way for our revival. But we have to take the first step.

Your input and help towards development of Sindh is always welcome.

Ali Nawaz MemonSindh Development Institute7204 Antares DriveGaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879


Discussion of the last few days has indicated that many Sindhis want to move beyond useless discussions to Revival of Sindhis.
History teaches us that there are many paths to revival. There must be improvement in economics, health, education, agriculture and God knows so many other factors. There are many books on these subjects. As a student and practitioner of economic development, I know about many reports, which have been written about Sindh. However, there has not been significant improvement in lives of common Sindhis.
Again, there are many reasons for the failure—the government did not introduce the right policies, the leaders were not sincere, the engineers were corrupt etc. In fact, many projects did get built—colleges, universities, houses, and factories. But they did not touch lives of majority of Sindhis. Why? May be majority of Sindhis was not involved. May be they did not even know about many projects which were underway. May be they were not educated enough or were too busy with earning of daily wages.
In Pakistan people have dreamed of a short cut-- arrival of great leader who will come and put everything right. Unfortunately, many leaders have come with uniform and in civilian suits but things have not improved significantly for most Sindhis. It is easy to corrupt or even kill individuals. May be time has come to rely on millions of Sindhis rather than one great leader.
The fact is that Sindh is not poor. Its lands, ports, railways, universities, industries etc are full of potential. The issues are that Sindhis are not getting rightful share. Sindhi leaders, Sindhi civil servants, and Sindhi people need to put the house in order.
The powerful in the land are getting their share. Their kids are in the best schools and universities. They have new cars and have bank balances. I am amazed how well ordinary SDO or inspector of police lives. Look at their salaries ad look at their life style. But the common Sindhis are not getting their share.
Then we have top leadership of Pakistan, which has always behaved like colonial power. It is more interested in developing other parts of Pakistan with resources generated in Sindh. They are powerful. They purchase our leaders with guarantees of personal position and wealth. Then we have our corrupt officials from policeman to IG, from tapedar to Chief Secretary, and from beldar to Chief engineer. The bosses allow them to enrich themselves as long as a major part of the resources is taken away from Sindh.
In the process, Sindhis have become a community of CHORAS. "CHORO" has two meanings-- orphan and a spoiled brat. Our leaders and civil servants have abandoned us. We have no protection of government and leaders. We are also wandering in streets without education and jobs.
The question is CHORAN KHE KIAN SUDHARJE? What to do so that the CHORAS will become educated and responsible people? So that they will demand and get their share of property. So that the uncles (leaders and officials) will not swallow their share of inheritance.
I think we should let the modern theories and practices of democracy and economic development work. They can and should be refined and made to work better. However, in parallel, millions of CHORA should do their part.
Your input and help towards development of Sindh is always welcome.
Ali Nawaz MemonSindh Development Institute7204 Antares DriveGaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879

Collective rape?

It was good to hear from so many of you regarding "Useless discussions?". I have received several private notes along the same lines. Every one can feel that the so called intellectual community-- both within and outside Sindh has become almost totally meaningless.
Today Altaf Bhai, Pir Pagaro and even and a grade 20 DIG police in Sindh has more power and far more impact on life of Sindhis than all the divided people and out of touch intellectuals.
Body of Sindh has been captured by force. We all standby. We write emails about Shazia and other individual rape victims. Perhaps, because writing emails is free of cost. Perhaps, because we do not know what else to do.
Do not misunderstand me. I do appreciate individual and even some group acts to help reach and save the people of Sindh. But, we all know that such acts can help a few at best. It has no impact on large body of Sindh.
The larger fact is that a collective rape of people of Sindh and perhaps a majority of Pakistan, is taking place. What can we do about that? One more email debate?
I believe that hard work and sacrifices are required by people who live in Sindh as well as people who love Sindh. Every one agrees that unity is needed. But drawing room unity of a few so called leaders has never worked before and is not likely to work in future.
I can tell you that as a minimum, people have to unite and fight in democratic way to win assemblies and cabinets and national resources. Altaf Bhai, Pir Pagaro and others have used different techniques to get where they have got. Perhaps Sindhis and other suffering Pakistanis will use their brain and other powers too. But perhaps the time has not come. Perhaps, the collective rape has not hurt enogh as yet.
Your input and help towards development of Sindh is always welcome.
Ali Nawaz MemonSindh Development Institute7204 Antares DriveGaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879

Useless Discussions?

In recent weeks I have have begun to wonder even more, if the discussions on these nets have any relationship with reality on the ground in Sindh.
I become surprised by several developments including
1. Results of the local bodies elections in Sindh. These have shown that:
(a) Power of the government in terms of election rigging is enormous. The power has been excercised through Sindhi police and Sindhi civil servants.
(b) Sindhi portion of Sindh has gone back to hands of feudal lords and Pirs. The middle class leadership has been eliminated.
(c) MQM has been handed almost all Karachi and increasing portion of interior.
Silence on Kalabagh after technical committee report. Even though full details of the report have not become known, it is clear that the committee has supported construction of one are more dam. Since then, politicians of Sindh and the public have become silent. Even previous opponets appear to have become quiet.
Sindh is in hands of Altaf Bhai, Pir Pagaro, and assorted landlords like Jatois, Mahars, Chandios, Unars etc. This will be confirmed through election of district and city Nazims. And, water is in hands of the federal government.
What will be the result of all this on economic development and welfare of Sindhi people? Probably not much. Unless, Altaf Bhai has some pity on Sindhis and wants to throw some crums. I do not expect even crums from our Pir Pagaro and feudal lords.
Please prove me wrong!
Your input and help towards development of Sindh is always welcome.
Ali Nawaz MemonSindh Development Institute7204 Antares DriveGaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879