Overcoming Obstacles

The curse of seth culture is a menace which has halted and destroyed many dreams of development in Pakistan. It is a familiar phenomenon, seen in every public field, from electricity, to agriculture to law, where a minor bump on the road often ends in a long delay, which leaves the project unfinished. It seems however, that this year, Pakistan’s government is paying heed to it and being cautious that we do not allow the initial hurdles to sabotage the progress of the entire project.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Wednesday gave approval to establishment of Capital Mass Transit Authority for the purpose of planning, operation and maintenance of Metro Bus Service that would work between the new Islamabad International Airport and main residential areas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The Prime Minister demanded that the relevant legislation be initiated and expertise of Punjab Mass Transit Authority be made use for establishment of the statutory body within minimum possible time.

The project had halted due to a controversy over the subsidy plan in October 2016, when then prime minister Nawaz Sharif approved a subsidy sharing formula for the metro bus project which put a lot of the burden of the revenue on the Federal government (Rs. 1.4 billion), with the Punjab government paying less than Rs. 1 billion. Ideally, concerns about the subsidy plan should have been addressed then for maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness; however, the delay of one year with the matter remaining unresolved, the outstanding subsidy amount increased up to Rs3.98 billion.

Despite the initial ineptitude, it is a step in the right direction that this issue is being addressed. There were legal difficulties with the federal government directly releasing funds to the Punjab Mass Transit Authority, but now having its own company involved in the operation; it will be easier for the federal government to release the subsidy money to the authority.

Such due diligence by the government was also seen this week at the suspension of 15 officials of six distribution companies for violating the load management schedule of the government. The PITC has been constantly monitoring the loadshedding on all feeders through online system and had directed that any violation of the schedule set on the basis of losses and recovery will not be tolerated.

It is hoped that the government will continue this week’s efficiency and concentrate it on CPEC, which is also reported to be suffering difficulties.

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