PR No. 180 Governance Reform Agenda Finalized: Ahsan Iqbal Islamabad

Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Prof Ahsan Iqbal has said the governance reform agenda has been finalised to be implemented in due course, which needs continuity and stability to bear fruits since evolution can be sped up, not bypassed.

“The private sector can afford the luxury of hiring the best minds, but the public sector struggles with it, where one has to balance many acts simultaneously. One can initiate reforms, but implementation can turn into a complex process in the larger context, but we are making it possible by working harder in the right direction,” he said, while speaking at the inaugural session of the Thought Leaders Summit 2016 ‘Strengthening human governance for sustainable Ease of Doing Business Index’ held here on Thursday at a local hotel. Former Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Hussain and Secretary Board of Investment Iftikhar Babar also spoke, while CEO HR Metrics Zahid Mubarak gave opening remarks.

Prof Ahsan Iqbal enumerated various steps being taken by the government for improving the governance sector. He said in this age of paradigm shift towards knowledge economy, which was marked by globalised competitiveness from the micro to the macro level, the government had declared the current year as the ‘Year of productivity, quality and innovation’. He underlined the need for working harder, better and smarter, and urged the private sector to make the country a leader in its comity by following the Vision 2025. While enlisting various reforms of the government, he also talked about reforms in the education sector through institutionalisation of the National Curriculum Council, which aimed at changing the curricula after consultations with the provinces since the subject stood devolved to the federating units. He stressed the need for encouraging students to raise questions and character building. He was of the view that inquiry was not part of the human resource development. The Minister was of the considered opinion that the first element to invite investment was the continuity and stability of the political system, which must be spanning over longer stretches of time, and impatience, was detrimental for good steps as well.

While talking about the level of public sector efficiency, he was of view that it had dwindled to quite a large extent in comparison to the 1990s, which was dilemma of the post-martial law periods. He said the country needed more institutional leaders since there was little number of bosses, in both public and private sectors. “Leadership quotient is very low and missing in all tiers, which must be mended through a new direction in the human resource management aiming at nurturing and training minds,” he said, while referring to the first and third pillars of the Vision 2025, that is, Putting people first – development of human and social capital, and Governance, institutional reform and modernisation of the public sector. He maintained that the previous efforts at reforms failed because of lack of ownership by the quarters concerned, and for the fresh reforms, extensive consultations were held and a framework had been outlined.

Prof Ahsan Iqbal said the first step would be sector specific recruitment, where the bifurcation would be made between the technical and general cadres since there was a need to professionalise the government service. “Revamping the training at all levels, reforming the Establishment Division to the Human Resource and Organisation Division with every ministry having an HR Manager, signing of the performance contract by the public sector entities and be answerable, digitalisation through e-governance and e-office, creating of reward fund worth Rs1 billion and establishing of the citizen feedback system are a few broad steps envisaged,” he said, while adding that the reforms would be for the institutional, inconclusive, collaborative and citizen-centric governance. “Measures can only bear fruit provided there is a stable leadership, shared vision, merit-based recruitment and promotion, ample resources and reasonable autonomy,” he said. To him, it was very important to synergise all efforts to make Pakistan as one of top 25 economies in the next decade.