Revisiting the Public Sector Development Programme

Published on – January 22, 2018 – 7:00 am

QUETTA: Successive Governments had failed to deliver for the past five decades as they lacked capability and experience to develop Balochistan on modern lines or meeting the basic needs of the people.

QUETTA: Successive Governments had failed to deliver for the past five decades as they lacked capability and experience to develop Balochistan on modern lines or meeting the basic needs of the people.

Interestingly, most of the Governments in power, excluding Sardar Ataullah Mengal, were minority governments. The Chief Ministers and their parties never enjoyed absolute majority and thus they were dependent on allies for support or govern the province.

In most of the cases, the Governments or parties leading the alliance or Coalition Governments, were blackmailed and not allowed to work according to the established practices.

In some of the cases, there were mass defections forcing the Governments to resign or the Chief Minister lost the confidence and trust of majority of the members and thus unwieldy coalition collapsed following conflict of interests.

Two cases were more interesting where there were defections from the main party of the coalition Government. In case of Sardar Akhtar Mengal, around a dozen Party Ministers/MPAs defected and joined the Muslim League and thus the Government was toppled through a revolt.

Same was the case with Nawab Sanaullah Zehri where his own Muslim Leaguers, both factions, defected and forced him to resign. There was a similarity in action in which two other allies of the PML-N suffered and PMAP and National Party were ousted from the Government in an unceremonious manner. They lost Ministries and portfolios in the fresh ministry making process.

In a way, the Chief Ministers, or the team leaders, enjoyed a minimum say in running the affairs of the Governments in Balochistan. Even towering personality like Nawab Akbar Bugti was found helpless and he finally surrendered to the will of his allies in the Government.

Being a very experienced administrator in every respect, he was engaged or forced to do file work most of the time. He was kept aloof by design from the real issues of governance. He was seen disposing hundreds of file in a day finding no time to improve governance. His entire tenure passed un-noticed and he was not allowed to use his experience and skills as he was blackmailed by his coalition partners.

The top priority of all the previous Governments was to save the coalition and spend more time in keeping allies and coalition partners happy and at the cost of development and welfare of their own political constituents.

As an eye witness, I was stunned and surprised when an ex-Minister for Planning and Development Minister started putting pressure on the Chief Minister to increase the annual MPA fund to Rs 500 million each as there was additional revenue being transferred from the Federal Government under the NFC Award.

The Minister succeeded in his pressure and now the share of every MPA in the Provincial Budget is Rs 500 million in a year. No Chief Minister could dare to slash the MPA fund as he constantly faced the threat of collapse of the coalition. However, the Minister for Planning and Development had always had the lever to influence or oblige the MPA/Minister.

Thus every MPA is getting Rs 500 million a year as a matter of right and they are also not accountable to any forum where they had spent the money.

Once, late Nawab Bugti tried to investigate the MPA spending by appointing three honest officials to probe. There was a near revolt situation as Nawab Bugti had to discontinue the investigation under pressure or the threat of immediate collapse of his Government.

Thus there is a Mafia in defending the illegitimate interests at the cost of the people and their welfare.

On the other hand, there is no perception of economic planning for development as the entire Provincial Government is being run on the pattern of a municipality where gutter and junk schemes are given priority.

At the same time, there is strong resistance to long term planning for development as the impatient MPAs are opposed to plan schemes for longer term. Thus they were found interested in short term gains or quicker gains.

The Government will have to take a final decision that the resources of Balochistan are for the Members of the Assembly or for the broad masses that should be used on development.

If it is for the people and their welfare and prosperity, then all the junk schemes in the PSDP should be discarded and shelved and all the funds should be diverted to developing the backward economy of Balochistan.

According to credible sources, more than 80 per cent of development funds are earmarked on “junk schemes” or in other words meant to go to the personal pockets of individuals and corrupt officials.

In other words, the huge fund is not meant for economic development—providing employment opportunities to the jobless people or increasing the revenue of the Provincial Government. In short, the huge spending is going waste leaving no impact on the destiny of the people.

For this specific reason, Balochistan remained backward and its people poor and majority of them are living much below the so-called poverty line. It is true for the past 48 years since Balochistan was given provincial status following the breakup of notorious One Unit.

There is an urgent need to change the policy by doing away with the Annual Development Plan system as the main tool for economic development. It should be replaced with long term planning for massive economic development undertaking mega projects in every sector of the provincial economy.

Rs 74 billion are a huge fund for a single year to be used for development in its real sense. With this fund of a single year, the Balochistan Government can complete the remaining part of Kachhi Canal irrigating more than 640,000 acres of highly fertile land in Kachhi Plains to the Bolan foothills. More than a million people will get jobs and many more human settlements will come up in the command area developing economic activities on a big scale.

However, it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to complete the second and third phase of Kachhi Canal in shortest possible time. If there was corruption and massive leakages of fund at the Kachhi Canal Project, the Federal Government and its corrupt bureaucracy is responsible where the Baloch people had zero representation.

On the issue of MPAs, they are elected to frame laws only and not to become economic managers of the junk schemes. Similarly, they should be barred from interfering in the administrative affairs. They are bound to make suggestions on the floor of the House and the Ministers in the Cabinet meetings only. The remaining job is for the Chief Minister who is the real Chief Executive of the Province.

If we succeed in blocking the flow of billions in politics and had withdrawn the massive and prestigious protocol, 80 per cent problems of the entire country would be resolved.  It is not an easy solution as the vested interest and the corruption Mafia are ruling supreme.