Effective parliamentary system can seek information, ask pertinent questions, analyse reasons behind policy decisions and make governance transparent, responsible and accountable.
Good governance is the factor that leads to giving the citizens an enabling environment that gives justice, peace and order, welfare facilities (education and health) and economic opportunities that will increase their quality of life and standard of living.
Good governance is based on institutional frameworks. In parliamentary system, where free, fair and impartial elections are held, a parliament emerges which represents the people and is supposed to protect their fundamental rights. The majority party in the parliament forms the government. The parliament passes laws and bills through processes of questions, motions, debates and discussions. It holds government accountable. Effective parliamentary system can seek information, ask pertinent questions, analyse reasons behind policy decisions and make governance transparent, responsible and accountable. The committee system if works in an efficient manner can be a very effective mechanism in improving the quality of governance.
Parliament is the public forum where all important national and other issues and problems can be highlighted, debated and discussed and plausible solutions are put forward to the government for consideration.
Executive is composed of the cabinet headed by the prime minister. Permanent civil service (bureaucracy) executes the decisions and policies of the cabinet. The major responsibilities and functions of the government are as under:
Pakistan’s biggest danger is terrorism. Suicide attacks have wrought havoc by killing thousands of innocent citizens. So far the intelligence agencies and the police administration have failed to quell this grave menace. The government has not shown the resolve to arrest this threat.
The foundation or base of terrorism needs to be identified and tackled so that the financers, organisers and operators of terrorism are apprehended, tried and punished. This is an extremely different but a challenging task which needs to be tackled to make Pakistan a safe and secure place to live in.
Pakistan’s economy is in a major crisis. Pakistan’s expected growth rate (GDP) last year (2010-11) was 2.52 per cent. It was reduced from 4.52 per cent on account of floods.
Pakistan’s biggest expenditure is on debt servicing. This will amount to Rs. 880 billion. Defence expenditure will be Rs. 600 billion (including pension). Civil administration expenditures will be Rs. 400 billion. Development expenditures will be Rs. 280 billion (reduced from Rs. 350 billion).
Tax collection has been earmarked as Rs.1600 billion. The government is trying to raise additional taxes through revised GST and by reducing subsidies and raising oil prices. These measures are now being negotiated between the government and the other parties in parliament.
To promote growth, higher productivity is required in industry, services and agriculture. With shortages in energy and water, and the difficult internal security situation, to increase the growth rate will remain a constant struggle.
Pakistan needs a higher growth rate to provide gainful employment opportunities for young entrants to the labour force. Unemployment rate is 5.5 per cent and needs to be reduced.
Inflation is a very major issue as it affects those who are more venerable in society especially the ones with fixed incomes. Therefore, the government has devised support programmes to assist the needy. Poverty is a major issue confronting the policy makers in Pakistan. With lower growth rates there has been an increase in poverty.
In the long-term Pakistan must address some of the structure challenges such as the low tax/GDP ratio and the low overall productivity in the economy.
3. Social Sectors Development
(a) Education: Public spending on education needs to be increased from 2% of GDP to 3-4% GDP. This will become feasible as we raise the overall growth rate of the economy.
Literacy rate must be improved. Substantially enrolment in basic education must be raised. Curriculum needs constant revision and up gradation. Science and technology needs to compete internationally. Teacher training needs to be standardised and institutionalized. Quality of higher education must be upgraded. Scholarship programmes need to be promoted.
(b) Health: Public spending on health needs to be increased from 0.6% of GDP to 1.5% of GDP. Manpower of the health department is composed of approximately 140,000 doctors and 10,000 dentists. The number of the dentist needs to be increased. There is dire need to improve the quality of medical education. Physical facilities i.e. hospitals, dispensaries, rural health centres and basic health units also need overhauling. Different programmes launched by the ministry of health like population planning programmes, drug abuse programme, blindness prevention and aids prevention need to be more effective.
4. Foreign Policy
There needs to be a full-fledged debate in parliament on foreign policy. After the debate and input from all segments of society, the required changes should be made accordingly.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan after being restored is showing judicial activism. It has taken up constitutional petitions. It has also taken up cases of citizens in distress under the fundamental rights. The courts have become the forum for resolving major national problems. Several thousand cases are pending with the courts. They need to be taken up expeditiously and disposed off.
Quality of governance will improve tremendously if all the organs of state carry out their functions and responsibilities with a view to serve the people.