Social and infrastructural development aficionado

This term has gone through a lot of bumps and hitches and the sitting government in Punjab has been criticised at every point by the opposition. Still what has been maintained by the government is its steadfastness, its determination and zeal to deliver.

Despite all odds a government working with this passion is commendable. Punjab government has been criticised for not setting its priorities straight and not working on the basic necessities and requirements of people, where as the current stats tell a different story altogether.

Punjab government in this tenure has rigorously worked on the basic necessities such as health, education, water & sanitation and electricity. Now if critics consider these things a luxury and not setting the priorities right, they are just criticising the government for the sake of criticism and nothing else. We as a nation lack in growth for which healthy criticism is required which gives the impetus to do better, bloom and blossom, but unfortunately criticism is only done for point scoring and demeaning the other party.

Punjab government is the only government which has worked on result-based management and got outcomes according to their projection. This was depicted in the last stock take meeting of this tenure on March 22 which gave the stats that how the government projected, planned and took actions for projects in order to accomplish and endure growth in a limited period of time.

The meeting was chaired by CM Shahbaz form England despite his bad health. He joined the session through a video link and was briefed about the results in detail by his cabinet. In the meeting it was stated that Shahbaz Sharif didn’t leave a single session of stock take in his entire tenure and it was his attitude that actually made things happen.

For the accomplishment of these projects the government along with their civil bureaucracy teamed up with a group of consultants who strategised projects as specialists and streamlined things for the government. Sir Michael Barber, a senior British educationist consulting the educational sector, presented the stats on education and health to the Punjab chief minister.

Starting with education, Michael Barber briefed the CM that till 2013 government focused on building and strengthening the basics of education and started focusing on quality form 2014 onwards. He told that the government promised to provide four things which were quality teaching, enrollment and access, schools and teachers and public-private cooperation. All four were fulfilled well in time. The government focused on quality education that has narrowed the gap between public and private schools due to which huge sums of students have enrolled. To edify such humongous enrollment the government has recruited 300,000 teachers on the bases of merit since 2011. He maintained that the public and private collaborations have also played a vital role in uplifting the education system. Under the Punjab Education Foundation 4,000 schools have been outsourced to non-government organisations and are successfully operational. According to The Economist, “Pakistan has dynamically improved its educational standards.”

Briefing about the health statistics, Barber told that the provincial government had a record of 3.5 million photographs of villages before and after the cleanliness campaign which provide a clear comparison of Punjab and its evolution in this regard. Barber told that the health budget has been increased by 200% out of which 94% has been utilised. He maintained that the government focused on the recruitment of skilled-based attendants, basic health units, Hepatitis vaccination and nutrition. Government has achieved success in all areas and its visible difference can be seen in terms of improved child mortality rate, 24/7 operational 1,000 BHUs throughout the Punjab and taking out children from malnutrition by providing them healthy food.  He emphasised that not only the health services are improving but also the cost of services is improving.

Barber told that all the stats were analysed by the third-party intervention in order to keep transparency which is CM Shahbaz’s primary goal and is a quality of rare astute.

Once Barber concluded, despite his bad health the chief minister asked every minster and technocrat sitting in the meeting to give their feedback on the statistics discussed and had a detailed question and answer session with journalists whom he answered with logical reasoning.

The stats presented by Michal Barber is a huge success for the Punjab government to deliver so much in such a short span of time but despite this, critics find ways to criticise and bash rather than appreciate what the government has done.  It is a criticism on the government on hiring consultants and giving them handsome salaries in comparison with the civil bureaucracy working on the same projects simultaneously. This criticism for me is very superficial and baseless when analysed on the grounds of common sense. It is a simple method exercised globally that specialists are hired by institutions, organisations and governments to help them perform specific tasks which they master in. This effectively results in better or exact execution of ideas.

This achievement is a product of sheer hard work and determination by the Punjab chief minister and his entire team who have worked day in day out to make things happen. As Michael Barber in his closing statement said, “When you build capacity what does it look like? It looks like this room full of exuberant people.”