The report of a research organisation stating the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government is relatively better than its predecessor led to a fiery response by members of opposition parties on Wednesday.
FATA Research Centre (FRC) released the report following detailed research, departmental reviews, media reports and policy evaluation. It concluded that the PTI government has managed to reduce corruption, give the public access to government departments and the right to information.
The report was made public during a programme titled ‘Interpreting the Change – Perceptions versus Reality’ at a hotel and revealed that most people were aware that jobs were on sale during the previous government’s tenure. However, it adds, the PTI-led government took necessary measures to eradicate corruption soon after assuming office.
Quoting different sources, including the media, it states that the provincial government has been doing much more for the education and health sectors, while working to reduce poverty levels by 50% in 2015.
“The government has not launched an economic policy as yet, but has introduced a number of financial reforms to increase the province’s own resources and tax to gross domestic product ratio,” the report reads, adding that reforms are still far from any realisation.
The government was lauded for the establishment of the K-P Revenue Authority, as it has been tasked to increase provincial revenues from Rs4.3 billion to Rs10 billion in the next couple of years. Moreover, the health budget has been increased from Rs7.5 billion to Rs19.1 billion in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
“The most important step by the PTI government was the approval of a uniform education policy,” reads the report. “This is a crucial move to end the ‘education apartheid’ in the province.”
The report also states that PTI has not played a considerable role in public administration, except refraining influence in certain day-to-day matters, which also led to differences between the K-P chief minister and chief secretary.
Opposition members, including Bushra Gohar of Awami National Party expressed dissatisfaction over the report and termed it a ‘misconception’.
“The current government does not know what to do with available funds, because of which 80% of K-P’s budget will go to waste,” Gohar said, adding that the province had been plunged into darkness, while Punjab has taken over its resources.
Qaumi Watan Party’s Mairaj Humayun said they had been expecting a change, but the provincial government has not delivered, due to clashes within the leadership and with the bureaucracy, leading to the formation of the forward bloc.
“PTI had announced that they will not distribute development funds among parliamentarians, but now they are doing it,” said Mairaj, questioning how many standing committees were functional.
PTI MNA Shehryar Afridi said they will always welcome positive criticism, adding that the Sehat ka Insaf programme, Right to Information Act and soon-expected Ehtisab Commission have been widely admired by the whole country.
“In the past, the commissioner, deputy commissioner, district police officer and many other bureaucrats would never allow public in their offices,” said Afridi. “Today that has changed and everyone will see more visible changes in the next five years.”
“The most important thing PTI introduced is the Right to Public Service Act. It has panicked the bureaucracy, however, the government still lacks skilled people,” said Vice Chancellor Islamia College University Professor Qibla Ayaz. He pointed out that the police chief has admitted there is no political interference in his department and added that the University of Peshawar is also free of political influence.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2014.
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