Nov 15, 2015

Pakistan: A land of opportunity (For Corrupt)

Suggested Steps to Eradicate Corruption

It is a common practice among political parties to condone corruption acts of previous government to ensure there is no political instability during their tenure. This way there is continuity of democracy thence they can complete their five years of government. This period of stable governance bestows opportunities of such corruption on them as well.

Condoning of corruption is a heavy cost of democracy in Pakistan. It would be safe to assert that Pakistan has the most expensive democracy per capita in the world!  Writer leaves a question for readers to ponder upon: Is it worth to have such an expensive democracy?    

Our political system with multi-layered redundant governments, gives such corruption opportunities and helps hide these acts as well, to these political actors and their beloved bureaucrats.

It is simply amazing, politicians who have had meager means have become multi-billionaires and no one questions them about the source of all their wealth.

Similarly, bureaucrats whose salaries are known fact, drive around in expensive cars and live in big bungalows. For God’s sake that should be easy enough to figure out that this all came from corruption! Yet no one is there to question them.

Trillion of rupees have been looted by these politicians and bureaucrats in last few years alone, but no steps have been taken to retrieve such huge amount.  National Accountability Bureau, essentially an arm of the government is expected to be neutral, fair and actually go after perpetrators of corruption. But can it be?

This situation gives others encouragement that they could indulge in such corruption and not be questioned let alone punished.

Why would businessmen and other income earners pay taxes? They know that a big percent of the money government collects is wasted and looted in corruption.

In writer’s view there are two kinds of corruption that prevails in Pakistan; financial and non-financial:
Non-financial corruption could be explained as position holders not owning their position meaning; not doing job properly or use their position to drive non-financial benefits such as giving jobs to people of their liking whether they are qualified or not, in other words indulge in nepotism.

On the other hand, financial corruption is when a position holder takes advantage of his position to make money which he is not supposed to.

Steps Needed to Drastically Reduce Corruption:
Like they say when there is a will there is a way. Here are certain stern steps need to be taken to eradicate this menace from our society.

Reduce Size of Government by Changing the Structure

We have multi-level overlapping redundant government structure. This provides opportunities for corruption in many different levels, i.e; from top to bottom and many levels in between. These are further multiplied at provincial levels and local government levels.

This multi-level government structure sophisticatedly help hiding of corruption by playing the blame game.

We are a poor country thus cannot afford such government structure.

Pakistan must adopt a simplistic hierarchical government structure proposed by the writer elsewhere, in order to ensure least chances of corruption and save funds so they can be used on the betterment of poor masses.

Eliminate Develop Funds: 

Develop funds are intended for developmental and social programs. However, the most of these funds are used for political gain or end up in personal pockets of MNAs or MPAs. These funds must be expended on the people in proportion of population by pertinent ministries instead of giving to members of the parliament.

Disallow Discretionary Funds be expended by Politicians:

 These funds must be appropriated to department budgets rather than leaving on political leaders’ discretion to give when and how they will. Examples being announcing rewards to players who perform well in a certain sport or announcing help to flood victims, however, not promulgating a concrete policy and making funds available for sports teams and planning to control floods.

These kinds of announcements provide photo-ops and helps leaders with political point scoring. Similarly for floods, nation faces flood disaster every year but no planning is done and no money is spent on permanent solutions. This is a prime example of political corruption.

Enforce Accountability: 

State should confiscate all the assets of politicians and big bureaucrats. State should confiscate all the assets of politicians and big bureaucrats say from past 25years (randomly selected) which reflect beyond their filed income taxes. Let them prove (burden of proof be on them) that they made these assets through legitimate means and then get their assets redeemed. However, then state must question their taxes filed (whether in Pakistan or outside) if their income reported does not reconcile with their claimed income.

All Systems must be in Place: 

All systems starting from exposure, conviction and public punishment of corrupts should be in place and applied consistently. Exemplary punishment should be given to convicted corrupts so no one will consider doing even iota of corrupt act.

Laws should be enacted and fiercely enforced. If a foreign or domestic company offers kickbacks to politicians or bureaucrats then that company should be banned for life from participating in state business.

All Institutions must be made Small, Strong and Independent: Every effort must be made to make institutions strong and independent. Reduce size of institutions but make them stronger. Judiciary, FBR, FIA, Police, etc. must be independent of political pressures. Bureaucracy should be replaced with technology as much as possible.

Bring in Transparency by Extensive use of Technology: 

Transparency is one of the best ways to control if not totally eliminate corruption. If technology is used to show flow of finances intra and inter-departments then people cannot hide funds and use ways to get them in their pockets.
All the government departments should have a website with complete details including finances that department is handling.

Decision making must be computerized by point-system or Yes/No answers so decisions are not on total discretion of power that be. This will help control or eliminate nepotism as well as awarding of business to companies which do not qualify against kickbacks.

Organizational structure of all departments must be made public so unnecessary hiring is checked.
Use of extensive technology will help place internal controls within organizations.

Watch & Tell and Whistle Blower Protection: 

Laws must be enacted that will give full protection to people who watch within an organization and tell what is going on. People should feel at ease to expose corrupt acts of their colleagues whether they are their bosses or subordinates.

Give Public Access to Technology at grass root level: 

Public must be able to get their business done with the government using technology so they are not on the mercy of bureaucrats. Public should be able to access records of different departments and be able to question in case of being incorrect.

Computerization of All Public Records: 

Computerized records cannot be easily manipulated. Bids on projec
ts and auctioning of state owned assets should be put on department websites so public knows who bid what and who ended up buying the asset. Similarly, same procedure used be employed when purchasing goods or services.

Departments e.g., NADRA & FBR, FIA, Police must be interconnected: 

Information sharing between departments makes it easy to check on records and makes it easy to catch miscreants.

Journalist Duty: 

Journalists feel they have done their job by pin pointing corruption. However, they fail to follow through and ensure these corruption episodes are brought to justice. They must stick to their story and force departments or people in charge to take action.

Social Engineering: 

Graph of corruption has gone up many folds over the past fifty years of our nation’s history. In order to control it, we need to educate coming generations about corruption, what corruption does to society, how this damages the very fabric of the nation and work on ways to keep our coming generations from indulging in this nuisance.

Dr. Shahzad Latif
Political Economist & Reformist
Chicago, USA

Our mailing address is:
Dr. Shahzad Latif
P.O.Box 1432
Wheaton, IL USA 60187

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