Aug 2 - 8, 20

Exercising power and decision-making is called governance, while "good governance" is often used to describe the desired objective of a nation state's political development. The principles of good governance, however, are not new. Good governance is, in short, corruption-less environ where authority and its institutions are accountable, effective and efficient, participatory, transparent, responsive, consensus-oriented, and equitable. These are the major characteristics of good governance as outlined by the United Nations.

Despite passage of 62 years of independence, Pakistan is today faced with a multitude of crises, the root cause being the lack of good governance. Due to governance crisis, the country is facing not only administrative problems but economic problems are increasing manifold.

Economic experts believe that good governance is integral to economic growth, the eradication of poverty and sustainable development. For good governance to exist in both theory and practice, citizens need to be empowered to participate in meaningful ways in decision-making processes. They have right to access information.

Over the last few decades, we have failed to realise the hopes and aspirations of the people and to secure a respectable niche worthy of our promise and potential in the comity of nations.

Pakistan is today passing through multiple crises ranging from energy shortages to breakdown of law and order to violence and terror, creating a sense of insecurity and frustration that is eating into the vitals of the nation's identity and dignity. The crisis of governance is all-pervasive but is most evident in political turmoil, rising cost of living, the increasing poverty graph and rampant corruption sans accountability.

The government in public perception has, over the last two years, failed to address any of major issue. Pakistan is constitutionally a parliamentary democracy and hence accountable to the electorate. As a matter of fact, public plights are not addressed by the government.

Governance issues not only undermine markets but also leave negative effects on state of national economy, experts told Page.

According to them, political uncertainties, worsening economic climate and bad governance are hampering the economic development.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has already expressed alarm at the deteriorating level of governance in the country and called the departure of the State Bank of Pakistan governor another example of officials, who are unwilling to bow to pressure, being shown the door.

A spokesperson of HRCP said: ěThe Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has watched with concern the deteriorating level of governance in the country. It is true that the federal and provincial governments are facing numerous challenges because of the spread of militancy and the utter chaos they inherited from the previous regime. At the same time, it is regrettable that nepotism, corruption, and self-interest continue to be a priority of the government. It is evident that such malpractices take a heavy toll on people's right to transparent and efficient governance that alone can bring prosperity and security. HRCP believes that the public and the press must continue to hold the government accountable for its decisions of appointments to key institutions. The appointment of the new governor of the State Bank of Pakistan should be watched closely and HRCP urges the government to respect merit rather than personal loyalties while making such crucial decisions. It encourages upright officials to put the interest of the people as a priority and resist pressures that may induce them to ignore malpractices."

The 3rd Annual Report 2010 on the State of Economy: Pulling Back from the Abyss made by the Institute of Public Policy of the Beacon House National University says "Pakistan performs poorly in governance in relation to most countries and has lost Rs820 billion due to bad governance."

The report suggests that specific areas of governance reform in Pakistan must include better policy framework, civil service reforms, improved delivery of services, emphasis on curbing corruption by enhanced transparency and accountability, strengthening the rule of law and the role of civil society organisations.

According to the report, the recent survey of industrial units shows that industrial sector in Pakistan suffered a loss of Rs230 billion in 2008-09 which is equivalent to 11 per cent of the industrial value added. The GDP could have been higher by almost Rs450 billion or about three per cent, if the shortages of power and water shortage alone were not adversely impacting on the economy. The loss of export is estimated about $1.3 billion in 2008-09. Compared to 2008, the costs to the economy of power outages in 2009 are probably 40 per cent higher.

About the relationship of Pakistan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the report says if the fund accepts the need to push for higher public investment next year as means of reviving the economy and thereby relaxes the fiscal deficit target to 5 per cent of the GDP for the year, then Pakistan could continue the relationship with the fund up to the end of present standby arrangement in December 2010 in the light of injection of additional funds.

Economic experts are of the firm view that the country direly needs financial discipline to come out of present difficult situation. Further, the government would have to curtail its non-developmental expenditures to create more and more resources for the well-being of people.

According to them, a new industrial policy must be given by the government to come out of the economic meltdown-like situation and create jobs. The demographic situation shows that we need to create 25 million new jobs in next 5 year and another 23 million jobs by 2020.

They said human resource is one of the major factors of production, hence special attention should be given to impart technical and professional education so that skilled workforce could be made available.

They also demanded cut in the rate of interest to promote business activities, which will generate more job opportunities. If the SBP brings down the interest rate in the coming monetary policy, it would be a great service to the economy, as the high cost of doing business was one of the impediments to the new investment in the country.

Last but not the least, immediate and foremost attention should be paid to improve the governance in the country which is a must to achieve the goal of economic uplift and wellbeing.