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Sunday October 24, 2021

New CS presents Punjab’s governance paradigm to PM

September 24, 2021
New CS presents Punjab’s governance paradigm to PM

ISLAMABAD: In his presentation to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the newly appointed chief secretary (CS) Punjab introduced his vision of “the new governance paradigm” and identified problems like pervasive corruption, frequent postings and transfers, lack of security of tenure, bad selection of team and the fear of NAB as major causes hurting governance in the province.

His presentation points, as available with The News, also talked about the inaccessibility of the top Punjab management as a reason for poor governance besides discussing the ‘fear of NAB’, which is generally considered as the major reason for the bureaucracy’s inefficiency and indecisiveness.

The presentation to the PM on Sept 15, also talked about the suspension of the local government system and poor control on prices of food items affecting governance. He also put the revenue administration on the spot by informing the PM that revenue matters and cases are not being resolved in an efficient and timely manner. The revenue administration in Punjab has been identified as a governance challenge.

The chief secretary in his presentation also mentioned the lack of ownership of development projects and the non-deployment of technology as reasons for the governance crises in Punjab.

The solutions and priorities proposed by the new CS to PM Imran khan are the eradication of corruption and inefficiency in the Punjab administration, merit-based appointments and the stability of two- to three-year tenures as per the rules.

The issues affecting governance in Punjab, as identified by the chief secretary, include pervasive corruption, lack of tenure security, lack of access to top management, fear of accountability adverse selection of teams, lack of ownership of public work, weak price control mechanism, revenue issues/ cases not resolved in time, technology not deployed.

For changing the culture and the mindset, the chief secretary emphasised that the governance paradigm must shift from state-centric to citizen-centric; for a public service ethic, the sense of privilege must change to an obligation for public welfare (which will be considered in appointments), transparent decision-making, expeditious and optimal use of public resources, judicious use of authority with independence and strict accountability.

The CS said that the immediate focus will be on the eradication of corruption and inefficiency, accelerated implementation of development and priority projects, efficient service delivery, and control of inflation.

The fear of NAB and the suspension of local bodies have also been identified as major problems which need to be addressed. The chief secretary gave a four-week deadline for changing the incentive structure for civil servants by ensuring appointments to be made on the basis of integrity, ability to deliver, and civility; security of tenure of two to three years, introducing KPIs (Key performance indicators), including accountability for accurate quarterly reporting of subordinate officers on integrity and efficiency, monitoring and evaluation, use of IT-enabled applications and ensuring a reward and punishment system.

For accelerated development, the CS assured efficient execution of ADB and priority projects, expeditious approval processes, immediate release of funds and rigorous follow-up. To control inflation, the CS talked about administrative and market-based measures like understanding the supply chain, reducing the farm-wholesale-retail differentials, eliminating unexplained cross-district differentials, administrative price control measures, enhancing competition through low-cost retail, removal of legal bottlenecks, fortnightly monitoring of project implementation and field visits.

For efficient service delivery, the CS’s plan envisages strengthening accountability; monitoring at tehsil, district and divisional levels, scheduled and surprise visits, khulli katcheris, accessibility of officers to the public through an open-door policy and IT-enabled monitoring, computer and mobile apps.