A case for KPK's economic resurgence

Afraheem

Senator (1k+ posts)
By Faisal Malik

Five years from now, local and international newspapers will be crowded
with stories about Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and its successful path
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to becoming a business friendly and self-sufficient province.

It is no secret that the province is tackling internal security issues, which are the major hurdles when it comes to kick-starting the economy, but the province is actively addressing the basic and fundamental aspects i.e. a corruption free, transparent business environment and an educated work force to encourage private entrepreneurship. It is simply impossible to expect deep rooted and sustainable private sector development without these pieces in place. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is addressing these issues through its policies, which the provincial government is determined to implement.

According to Transparency International (TI)s Global Corruption Barometer 2013, police, civil bureaucracy and political parties in Pakistan occupy the top three levels when it comes to corruption. In 2012,Pakistan ranked 139th out of 176 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index.

Lets take a look at some of the steps being taken by the new
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KP government.

The KP government has proposed an autonomous provincial accountability commission, which will be given special powers to curb the menace of corruption in the province. The commission would conduct speedy hearings, aiming to complete the trial within a two-month timeframe, without any influence or interference by the government. A former KP chief secretary, who has an impeccable record in government service, has been asked to become a member of the proposed accountability commission. This commission will be given the power to summon incumbent and former ministers, public officers involved in embezzlement and the misuse of state authority.

Further, KP police has formed an internal police accountability commission along with disciplinary committees at the district level to eliminate corruption. The district committees and the commission will recommend the removal of corrupt police officials to KPs Inspector General of Police. The provincial government has already expelled numerous crooked police officers, ETOs, patwaris etc. Authorities have also identified and prevented power thefts that would have caused losses worth Rs320 million.

The KP government is also formulating a working group for alternate dispute resolution to provide social justice to its residents. The provincial law department terminated the services of law officers, who had affiliations with the Awami National Party-led provincial government. Police reforms in KP also include the mandatory lodging of an FIR within five minutes of receiving a complaint and the establishment of womens complaint centres across the province.

Health sector reforms include provisions for free emergency health treatment at government hospitals and the formation of independent management councils to oversee hospital procurements, transparency and uninterrupted services to patients.

One of the biggest achievements is the introduction of the Right to Information (RTI) ordinance by the PTI-led government in KP. According to this progressive law, any citizen can request access to public information regarding any of the designated 32 departments of the KP government. These departments are then supposed to provide the requested information within 20 working days. Failure to provide the information can result in a Rs50,000 fine, two-year prison sentence or both for the responsible information officer. The law also provides protection to whistleblowers. A commission has also been formed to ensure that applications are replied to without any delays. The information ministry of KP is also working towards making all such information available on government websites to live up to its promise of transparency. For this purpose an online complaint management and resolution system is also being setup as a sub-project of the overall e-governance plan. The government has also planned a mass awareness campaign to educate the people of the province about the RTI law, which will help hold government officials accountable.

Despite the poor law and order situation in KP, which the provincial government is addressing, these fundamental changes are paving the way for private sector development. With a corruption-free and transparent business environment, numerous opportunities are likely to spring up in the housing and construction, tourism, energy, transportation, mining, services and agriculture sector.

A transparent public sector procurement process in KP will enable services providers and suppliers to do businesses more efficiently especially in the areas of health and education.

The provincial government has already started projects such as mobile health units, modernisation of hospitals and plans to convert them into autonomous bodies. The district headquarter hospitals will have boast an autonomous structure and its own board of governors, two-thirds of whom will belong to the private sector. A new medical college in Swabi has also been approved by the KP chief minister a move that will generate new employment opportunities in KPs health sector and at the same time open doors for private businesses to help these hospitals achieve their goals. The provincial government has also begun work on improving infrastructure in the province with an international standard mass transit system on the cards for Peshawar. The urban policy unit of the Planning and Development department of KP has already invited Expression of Interest from the private sector to conduct a feasibility study for the mass transit programme. The proposed system comprises one main train system connected with a bus system. The KP government also plans to develop two new mega cities, one along the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway and the other near Abbottabad, to uplift the housing and construction sector and boost employment, trade and provide modern affordable housing in the province.

All of these initiatives require trained and skilled human resource for making development sustainable. For this a working group has been formed in KP to develop the draft for improving the higher education system in the province. The government has also recommended the set up of a Quality Evaluation Cell to measure the academic performance of each university and its staff through a comprehensive feedback system. A public drive to increase the school enrollment rate and decrease the dropout ratio has also been initiated by the education ministry.

To address the energy shortfall, the KP government has shown its keenness to develop hydel power projects in the province with some international companies committing investments in this area. Two such projects have recently been inaugurated by the PTI Chairman Imran Khan in Kalam which were handed over to the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (NGO).

To facilitate investments in KP, the provincial government has offered major incentives to the private sector, including a 25 percent rebate on electricity consumption and exemption on property tax in industrial estates. With all of these developments taking place in the first ninety days of the newly-elected government its safe to say KPs policymakers are heading in the right direction and certainly aiming towards a sustainable long-term growth model to ensure that businesses thrive in the province.

The writer is an investment management professional
 
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desan

President (40k+ posts)
People the world over will be giving examples of a MODEL province, like



we do these days about Hongkong, Singapore, and Behar.....
 

truthseeker007

MPA (400+ posts)
Nooron ko abb pile lag jayein gay, aur tu kuch unko miley ga nai koi personal attack ka naya agenda le ayein gay warna aur kuch nai tu purana kuch naye packing main phir sey paise karein gay.