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June 20, 2021

Rout of the rules

LAHORE: The governments in Pakistan have been trying to improve quality of life of its citizenry without any success because they are not interested in addressing abuse of intellectual rights or creating a research and development culture.

The quality of life cannot be improved through non-implementable legislation. Laws need full clarity and should not be left to the interpretation of the executing authority or the court of law. Violation of law should be punishable with speedy trials. If a bureaucrat looks the other way when the law is violated he should be sacked.

Since most regulatory laws are being violated openly the bureaucracy should be given 15 days to act according to law, failing which the concerned bureaucrats should be shown the door. If this practice is seriously implemented we would see no environmental violations by the factories or vehicles operating on roads.

The encroachments would go away immediately. The most difficult implementation would be on tax compliance. There would be widespread unrest and strikes.

The planners should act prudently in this regard. Instead of confronting the entire trading community, action should first be taken against importers (that are semi documented). They should be asked to give the trail of goods disposed of to the next level (usually wholesalers). For six months the wholesalers should be asked to provide details of goods supplied at retail level. Do not touch the retailers till the government has full grip over importers and wholesalers accounts. Ultimately the law has to be implemented in letter and spirit. The retailers that provide details of their purchases through proper receipts should be allowed to continue on turnover tax scheme for three years. After that they should file proper tax returns.

To upgrade human resources the state should make it compulsory for the beneficiaries of Ehsaas programme to enroll one family youth in vocational training institutes run by the federal and provincial governments. This would add 4 million skilled workforces every six months in addition to those undergoing training routinely.

The training programmes should be market-based and developed in consultation with the industry.

The government should reward innovation and research through financial support to innovators in IT, engineering, and seed production. They should be awarded medals like the ones given to artists and sportsmen. The awards and rewards should be based on merit.

We do not nourish our human resources. Talent goes to waste because the selection criterion on most posts is not the human intellect but the influence that he/she carries in the society. Our startups struggle to protect their invention and innovation because there is no protection against duplicating their innovation without their permission.

Our human resource is intelligent like other nations. We see millions of workers that have built capabilities through experience but they serve in low-paid jobs under college graduates that would attain the same expertise after a decade of practical experience.

Consumers are not only braving the high cost of edibles but are also forced to bear the hidden costs charged from them through adulteration, substandard weights and measures as state regulators ignore these malpractices. They suffer because of the inept attitude of district administration or their connivance with the traders. Strict adherence to rules of law is the only solution.

The weights used by the retailers and roadside vendors particularly for vegetables, fruits and meat are not of uniform standard. There is a difference in quantity of fruits and grocery items when procured from different shops or vendors.

Those involved in this malpractice keep two sets of weights. One is according to the standard and another set that is 10 to 15 percent lighter. In case they see that a raid is being conducted they conceal the substandard weights and start using those attested by the municipal authorities.

The beef and mutton being openly sold in the market contains high quantities of water that increases the weight of these products. Water is in fact flushed in the lungs of the animals immediately after slaughter that penetrates its entire body and is retained for a considerable time. This not only compromises the quality of the meat but the buyers also end up getting 15-25 percent less quantity as well.

Problem of donkey slaughter has been addressed. It is an open secret that almost 200 camels are slaughtered daily in Lahore but there is no sales point of camel meat.

It is not a mystery where the entire meat goes. The cow or buffalo meat retailers keep this meat in the rear of the shop where the machine that minces the meat is also kept. When any customer wants minced meat the butcher mixes the camel meat with buffalo meat.