Task forces proliferate

Published: August 30, 2018

If the creation of task forces is an early measure of success for the new government then it is doing well, with six created on Tuesday, August 28. This half-dozen is joined by three new committees, and all with the job of reviewing and suggesting reforms to existing practice in pursuit of the PTI’s 100-Day Agenda. They face large tasks over the next three months — reforms of civil laws, the criminal procedure code, accountability laws, civil service and federal government restructuring to say nothing of the creation of 10 million jobs and construction of five million new houses nationwide. The PM is going to be busy as well. He is committed to assessing progress on the above every fortnight.

All this is commendable and we wish well to those thus tasked. There is, however, the small matter of practicality within the extremely narrow window that has been set. These are massive structural, strategic and economic reforms that are under consideration. The job is complex and those versed in management training will be well aware of the adage ‘if you want to avoid taking action form a working party’ or as in this case a task force. The job of all these groups is to come up with proposals for reform; they are not ‘action groups’ of themselves. Any action that may derive from the proposed reforms is going to have to, in many if not all instances, pass through the federal and provincial assemblies. The ruling coalition has a slim majority in the federal parliament and does not govern Sindh. Turning any of the proposed reforms into action may take months or even years. Those looking for a quick return on their investment via the ballot box could be in for a long wait.

None of this is obvious from the public utterances of the government that has anyway walked itself into the briar-patch that is helicopter operating costs. It would have been a good idea to get somebody who actually knew about helicopter operations to talk about them. Instead, the government looks distinctly foolish. A jog to work in the morning Mr Prime Minister? Over to you.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2018.

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