Up the governance bar

Mansoor Ahmad
Tuesday, Jul 05, 2022

LAHORE: The economy and the governance will improve immensely if the rulers operate on the principle that they would suffer equally with the men in streets in times of economic stress.

We are a badly governed country that has made the life of the majority of the population miserable. Those who govern the country at any level do not feel such stress because they are immune from many issues that impact ordinary citizens. The world economy is in turmoil and Pakistan is facing the same like all other nations.

But Pakistanis are also facing many deprivations because of misgovernance that has nothing to do with the global economic scenario. The high fuel prices have increased the cost of power production worldwide. But the power sector in Pakistan is highly mismanaged.

Line losses in Pakistan are many times higher than the average in well managed economies (due to power theft that tends to increase with every price hike). The recovery of the billed amount is very low. Almost 10 percent of the power bills are not paid every month.

Defaulters are in both the public and private sector (the consumption of protected defaulters is two to three times higher than average consumers). Leaving aside other corrupt practices in the power system, the consumers bear at least 20 percent higher tariff on these two counts. If other malpractices are curbed the tariff could go down by 30 percent. This 30 percent corruption tariff has got nothing to do with the current global scenario.

There is no improvement in the system because the elements that operate and oversee the system are not impacted. Power sector employees, who are part of a corrupt system are rewarded with free power units (much higher than their consumption).

Regulators of the system, government colonies, ministers’, residences do not face any load shedding and many of them are entitled to free power. They would not feel the pain until they are treated equally like other consumers.

Police tends to protect the influential. Crimes against the poor have increased. They are unable to protect their assets and honour from the rich. Only the cases that are reported in the media catch the attention of rulers. Most of the cases are not reported as the poor know that even to fight for justice, they would have to pay rent money to the police, which they do not have.

In most cases, instead of apprehending influential culprits, the police include the poor of the locality in investigations. The poor go into hiding. Those spared live in fear. Their already low earnings decline.

All illegal activities take place under the protection of police. Pakistan can develop into a welfare state if the police access is controlled. The CCTV cameras in major cities become non-operational when some illegal activity takes place in their vicinity. Life for the poor will ease a lot if they are protected from police access and the richer segments involved in crimes are brought to book.

The current global turmoil impacted both Bangladesh and India where inflation rates increased to 8-year high recently. But the inflation still ranges between 6-7.5 percent. After an upward movement, India’s policy rate of 5.11 percent, and Bangladesh’s of 5.00 percent are still manageable compared to Pakistan’s inflation rate of above 20 percent and policy rate of 13.73 percent, which speaks volumes about the way the country is governed.