Ensuring compliance with the rules is the basic function of all the regulatory bodies created in any country. These regulators are also entrusted with the task of overseeing and monitoring the performance of all the players in their relevant fields. So, in this way, they act both as whistleblowers and watchdogs simultaneously. The executive branch of the government is primarily responsible for the formation and function of various regulators for ensuring regulation in the different areas of governance. Among other things, the collective performance of these regulators is itself an important indicator of the state and quality of governance of the executive.

The rule of law index report 2012 issued by a Washington-based World Justice Project (WJP) shows the poor state of the regulatory mechanism in Pakistan. It ranks Pakistan 88 in regulatory enforcement among the 97 assessed countries which is, of course, very disappointing and rather pathetic. We have many regulatory institutions both at federal and provincial levels. First of all, State Bank of Pakistan is the most important regulator formulating and enforcing the monetary policy in the country. Unfortunately, we have seen it as being only a ‘subsidiary’ of Ministry of Finance by lacking some independent regulating policies. NEPRA and OGRA have also failed in independently regulating the energy sector, both in terms of ensuring smooth supply of energy and establishing any transparent price fixing mechanism. Likewise, PTA and PEMRA are even less effective in the affairs and functions of the telecommunications and electronic media sectors respectively.

Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), an important corporate watchdog and regulators, is also not successful in ensuring any fair and transparent corporate regime in the country. Likewise, The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has also failed in bringing about any significant qualitative change in the state of higher education in the country. Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) are regulators for the medical and legal professionals respectively. They are supposed to ensure the compliance of the professional code of ethics, but they seem to have nothing to do with these professions beyond granting them the licenses to start their practices.

Same is the case at Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a body that regulates and oversees all aspect of the civil aviation in the country. We have a high ratio of air crashes in the world. As all the important regulatory institutions in the country have somehow failed in the task entrusted to them, therefore, some comprehensive structural and functional reforms are imperative. They need to be made more efficient, vigilant and attentive towards their responsibilities. It is only possible by making them autonomous and accountable at the same time.


Lahore, December 4.