Perception versus reality – Journal


When it comes to Sindh government officials, it is understandable that they find the impression of the governance deficit in the province rather misplaced and insist that a quiet transformation in the province is underway. What might surprise some is the fact that even independent observers from inside Sindh concede that the situation is in fact better than the general perception.

However, not everyone is convinced. There is no shortage of those who deplore the overconfidence of the ruling party which they say underestimate the impact of the expansion of the seminar network across the province.

“I was shocked to find that a large gated complex in the heart of the small and sleepy town of Thar, Mithi, houses a seminar with board and accommodation for students. This is in addition to another similar large institution less than 100 km away in the adjacent Umerkot district which has been the subject of frequent newsletters, ”said a former Sindh government secretary while discussing the issue. evolution of the trend.

“It will not be surprising that the PPP concedes seats to religious parties in rural Sindh in the next general elections,” he said.

Some senior members of the provincial hierarchy argue that Sindh can do better if the administration has space without fear of being humiliated by federal oversight agencies, like the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Authority, and what ‘they call’ a hostile justice system ‘.

Things might not be as bad as they seem from a distance – Sindh is no exception in this regard.

“No one can deliver in an environment of terror. How is it fair to denigrate the character of honest officers? I don’t know if the corruption is contained, but judicial activism has compromised the will to work, ”noted a female officer who has had to appear before the courts several times. “Even when business is called off and objections dropped, insults are hard to forget. Paralyzed administration is a natural result. I do not see any improvement in the quality of governance in the province in this environment, ”insisted a senior officer who has withdrawn from the mainstream.

Reacting to the negative portrayal of Sindh, another officer pointed to the failings of the federal government in the province and mentioned projects such as Right Bank Outfall Drainage (RBOD) and Green Line, among others, in this regard. He listed several reputable provincial government institutions, such as the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) and IBA Sukkur, for which “merit is given to everyone except the government of Sindh.” .

Discussing the reasons behind the PPP vote bank despite the perceived underperformance, an independent analyst blamed the lack of a viable political alternative in the province. “With all of their failures, historically speaking, PPP governments have done more for the Sindhis than anyone else.

“The toxic memories of the phases when the PPP was out of power keep its voice bank intact,” said a keen observer while recalling horror stories, such as the Thori Gate and Tando Bahawal incidents of the 1980s and 1990 and the politics of division of the 2000s.

Speaking of an ongoing “silent transformation”, he said the ruling PPP focused on community-led activities to make development inclusive.

Having said that, one wonders what keeps the pace of development slow in Sindh. The provincial planning service responded to Dawn questions about it.

To justify the post, the ministry provided Dawn with a summary of the measures which, the officials insist, reflect the vision and the priorities of the party in power. Here is a preview:

“To promote community-based economic activities, focusing on supporting home-based businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, a social protection and economic sustainability program worth Rs 30.9 billion is planned. for the current period 2021-2022. ” In elaborating, the department shared the following details: – Rs 10 billion is earmarked for cash transfers to Covid victims as part of the Sindh people support program through the department’s strategic social protection unit social protection.

• 3 billion rupees are allocated to a low rate loan program for small and medium enterprises, the one size fits all from 0.5 million rupees to 2 million rupees.

• Rs3bn is set aside as part of the Poverty Reduction Program for Small Farmers / Community Loans in Rural Areas. The loan amount is Rs 25,000 and the Poverty Reduction Dashboards are used in conjunction with reputable non-profit entities, such as Sindh Rural Support Organization, National Rural Support Program, Thar Deep, etc.

• Rs2bn for a fund to support small businesses in urban areas through the Social Protection Strategists Unit, Department of Social Protection. The loan size will be a maximum of Rs0.20m.

• Rs 1 billion subsidy for the purchase of quality rice seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from farmers with 25 acres or less of land.

• Rs500m are reserved for breeding. 500 million rupees to finance the development of livestock and fishing businesses.

• 500 million rupees for the Benazir women agricultural workers program.

• Rs700m are kept to support interventions and innovations in information technology.

“The government launched a poverty reduction program in two districts and expanded to 12 districts to reach one million female households. The success of the People’s Poverty Reduction Program prompted the European Union to join the initiative of the provincial government through the Council of the Sindh Union and the Community Economic Strengthening Program (SUCCESS) in eight additional districts. As part of the new generation reforms, a poverty reduction strategy has been developed, focused on community-driven local development (CDLD), the rural and urban service hub through a cluster approach and business development. A pilot program is being implemented in Sujawal district.

The department said a team is working to remove systematic barriers and improve the regulatory environment for businesses through regulatory modernization initiatives and reforms that make doing business easier. He dropped the names of the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone where an initial private investment of Rs18-20bn is expected and the Marble City project spans 300 acres, costing Rs6bn. The government has also launched several public-private partnership projects, such as the Malir highway, the M9-N5 link road, the Mauripur highway and the ICI interchange.

“The government is also working on a ‘small and medium-sized enterprise competitiveness strategy’ as an actionable roadmap to improve the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem. The ruling party has always fought for “inclusive” and “equitable” economic growth.

Responding to a question about entries and exits related to the provincial prize pool, the department said, “The entries in the first quarter were weak. However, in terms of cash outflows, the performance of the government improved from 51.8 billion rupees in the first quarter of the previous fiscal year, 89.2 billion rupees was released, an increase of 27% ” . According to the planning department, a total of Rs 89.2 billion have so far been disbursed out of the total of Rs 329 billion; about 27pc of the total allowance. Out of 99.7 billion rupees for the infrastructure sector, 31.3 billion rupees (31 pc) has been released. Out of 108.5 billion rupees for the social sector, 26.8 billion rupees (25 pc) have been released so far. Spending in the infrastructure sector is 19.8 billion rupees and 9.3 billion rupees in the social sector.

As the interprovincial development gap widened, the department said, “Sindh has invested in human development. On health, Sindh’s position is reflected in the annual health sector development program for which Rs18.5bn has been allocated for the calendar year. This is a 30% increase in the total allocation for the health sector, including medical education. In addition, 7.6 billion rupees has been allocated in the current fiscal year with an overall increase of 10% for nine vertical disease control / control programs. From the development budget of Rs 329 billion, Rs 94.3 billion has so far been disbursed.

As a farewell, the government dispelled the impression of duplicity from the centers of power in the province. “The Chief Minister is the chief executive of the province and all the powers of the province flow from this same office. ”

Posted in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, November 8, 2021

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