Aug 2 - 8, 20

Bad governance by the incumbent rulers is evident in every sphere of national activities. Deteriorating law and order situation, rampant corruption in the government institutions, unchecked soaring inflation specially of food items caused mostly by the hoarder mafia, unjustified tax exemptions and failure to enhance revenues commensurate with growing expenditure, rising debt burden and slowdown of economic growth are all result of bad governance which, as an end result, have made the lives of majority of the people living in Pakistan miserable.

Corruption in government institutions negatively affects the national economy and results in increase in prices of goods and services across the board. The relevant government agencies have given free hands to hoarders and the middleman to fleece the poor consumers and in return getting some part of their profits.

At a seminar on "How to Check the Growing Corruption" in Islamabad recently representatives of business community said the government had always been accusing the trading and business community of tax evasion but had miserably failed to check its own backyard which was rotting under massive corruption.

Thanks to vigilant media stories internal fights between the ministries and their ministers on distribution of money received as bribe commission and kickback are coming to public knowledge. It has never happened before that the minster and minster for state are accusing each other of corruption mainly because of their dispute on distribution of booty.

Bad governance has led to dismal economic conditions. Failure to check growing informal economy and bring it into tax net is a major failure of the government. The informal economy's contribution towards GDP growth and trading is substantial and yet it remains of out of tax net. The real issue of the parallel economy is to bring it under tax net and fully document it. But, it cannot be done because of rampant corruption in the tax collecting machinery fully protected by the higher authorities in the government. It is often said that officials are most honest in the distribution of illegal money from top to bottom. Feudal lords and aristocrats overwhelmingly represented in senate, national and provincial assemblies have managed successfully that their huge incomes always remain out of tax net.

Failure to enhance revenues commensurate with growing expenditure, debt burdens reaching alarming level, slowdown in economic growth, soaring inflation, surging unemployment and poverty level are all result of bad governance, which started during the second half of 1990 reaching to its present heights during the last two years.

Likewise, reporting of numerous scams has become a norm these days. For example, a multibillion rupees scam brewing in the country's electric power sector, where the contract (being) awarded to the Chinese company by National Transmission Dispatch Company has reported to be opposed by National Engineering Services Pakistan (Pvt) Limited, the Central Contract Cell of Wapda and even the public accounts committee. The reason was that the documents submitted by the company were insufficient, unauthenticated, and contradictory.

The current prime minister does not see corruption fast engulfing the entire society and he believes that "all the democratic governments have been fired under the pretext of corruption since 1958. This is reminiscent of the remarks of late Benazir Bhutto. In 1996, while giving an interview to Riz Khan of CNN, she remarked "corruption, how"? The subject matter, of course, was the ever detested "corruption perception index" of the Transparency International (TI). The TI at that time had come to the conclusion that Pakistan was the second most corrupt state in international business transactions. Sadly, things have not changed much now.

In context of the debt level today, internal and external debts have crossed $100 billion; foreign component alone now accounts for over $50 billion. It is likely to pass $70 billion in a few years time. Debt servicing liabilities are surging; nearing two-fifths of revenue collection and will be rising further.

This is high time for Pakistan to tackle the problem of corruption prevailing at a large scale. The parliament, the judiciary and the executive should act immediately effectively and in tandem only then Pakistan could make some kind of remedial impact on restraining or restricting corruption.

Analysts are of the view that there exists no proper impasse to curb corruption. Thus, it has become vital for the government and the intellectuals to take the lead by setting personal examples to culminate the disease of corruption.

Once corruption is culminated or at least controlled, the second priority of the government should be to broaden the tax net. Currently only a ten percent of the population is under the net whereas many important sectors like agriculture and many others are not in the tax net. If tax net is judiciously expanded and effectively collected, government revenues would multiply manifold which could be diverted to the welfare of the people and in strengthening the commercial and industrial structure. Only through such strong and selfless measures, the rulers can save its tarnishing image and save themselves from the wrath of the masses.