Punjab Government Launches Action Research Report on Improving Governance.
Punjab Planning & Development Board (P&D) in-collaboration with the Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG), Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) launched action research report titled “Improving Governance: Reforming Provincial Civil Service in Punjab” at the P&D Auditorium Lahore. The launch was attended by Chief Economist Punjab Dr. Amanullah, Director General (M&E) P&D Dr. Sajjad Mubin, Additional Secretary P&D Dr. Shahid Adil, Deputy Secretary P&D Malik Awais, Director PERI Dr. Mumtaz Anwar and senior civil servants of the Punjab Government departments including Education, Health, Revenue, Police, Punjab Public Service Commission, Management and Professional Development Department (MPDD).
Addressing the launching ceremony, Punjab Chief Economist P&D Dr. Amanullah appreciated the research findings presented by the research team said that the study plugged a hole in the existing literature on civil services reform in Pakistan. This provided an opportunity to Punjab Government to improve governance by devising a strategy to incorporate the recommendations of the study. He particularly mentioned four findings of critical importance: one, where by lower cadres may suffer stagnation in one grade leading to demotivation; two, the shortage of staff further aggravated by assignment of extra responsibilities, increased the burden adversely impacting service delivery; three, a lack of budget for operations, and maintenance of buildings facilitated corruption, and lastly both the lack of training as well as lack of training linkages with career progression led to an inefficient and ineffective organization, he added.
Dr. Amanullah stated that in light of the study, a comprehensive training strategy, and an elaboration of rules and regulations with reference to job descriptions, promotions and transfers for the subordinate bureaucrats should take precedence. He recommended further deliberations on the issue, and requested his colleagues in the civil services to incorporate the recommendations in the agenda for civil services reform in Punjab Province.
Dr. Saeed Shafqat, Director Centre for Public Policy and Governance, Forman Christian College said that although a number of studies had been conducted on civil services reform in Pakistan, still this was the 1st study of its kind that concentrated on grades 5-16, the ‘face of the state’ or ‘street level bureaucrats’ who were the citizen’s first point of contact with the state. It was thus this cadre whose attitude, conduct and performance drove the delivery of services as well as shaped the perception about governance among the citizens. He argued that for this purpose, it was critical that the Government of Punjab adopted a bottoms-up approach to civil service reform inclusive of devolution of powers to the local level. To improve the performance of subordinate civil services, he made a case for developing transparent and merit driven recruitment systems at the department level supported by District Recruitment Committees, to ease the burden on Punjab Public Service Commission, for which he suggested a regulatory role.
Earlier, Ms. Naima Hasan, Research Fellow of the CPPG research team gave a presentation to the audience detailing the objectives, methodology and findings of the research report. She shared that the research had focused on the subordinate bureaucracy, grades 5-16, and was based on interviews and participant observations of four departments including Education, Heath, Revenue and Police. The objective was to assess the recruitment, training and career progression of the subordinate cadre to understand how their motivation levels, efficiency and effectiveness can be improved to better service provision of the department as Grade 1-16 constituted 83.4% of the bureaucracy.