The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has sought a report on the alleged misuse of a $61 million World Bank loan allotted to the bureaucracy for human resource development. The loan for ‘capacity building’ was allegedly used by senior bureaucrats for their vacations under the pretext of ‘training’. “This is the one poor country where millions of dollars are spent just on pleasure trips of bureaucrats,” said PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan. The beneficiaries of this capacity building programme did not feel the need to disclose what they learnt from their training as there was no clause that required an assessment report. Such is the ‘efficiency’ of our bureaucrats who are notorious for red-tapism and being overtly ‘thorough’. But when it comes to hiding their own corruption, they come up with all sorts of excuses. This is a stinging indictment of our bureaucracy.
Pakistan ranks high on the list of corrupt countries but corruption is a malaise that afflicts every institution of this country and is not just limited to politicians. Some would say that the level of corruption in the bureaucracy is far higher than elsewhere in Pakistan. The military is the most powerful institution of Pakistan but the bureaucracy does not lag behind and it has become an attitude rather than a functioning hand. The scourge of red-tapism contributes to the perpetual delays in the implementation of projects. The bureaucracy seems to have become part of the problem rather than serving as a facilitator to speed up development.
It is welcome to see the PAC taking up the issue with the Establishment Division and investigating the abuse of grants. For a smooth functioning system, we need honest and hardworking bureaucrats; not those who think they can get away with plundering the country’s resources without being held accountable. A corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy has caused many problems countrywide. It is time to make the bureaucrats accountable for their misdeeds.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.
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