There is uproar about national economic losses due to corruption in the public sector. Although there is some substance in the public outcry; yet the damage to the economy and public suffering is more due to mismanagement, incompetence and outdated practices in the prevalent public sector systems. All this necessitates drastic reforms backed by political will, which alone can effectively curb corruption and overcome mismanagement. With the passage of time, the public wrath against the twin menace will intensify in Pakistan. Drastic reforms in this respect therefore cannot be delayed. Corruption and mismanagement are closely interrelated.
Corruption in Pakistan is considered widespread according to global watchdog agencies. In 2014, Pakistan scored 126 out of 174 on the corruption perception index (CPI) publicised by the Transparency International improving slightly from its previous score of 127 out of 175 in 2013. Thus Pakistan achieved slight improvement in the CPI in 2013. In 2009, the index was quite high, as much as 180 in 2009. Thus the present Government did achieve some success in controlling corruption in the public sector. In fact, no major corruption scandal of high level has surfaced after 2013.
Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, in his letter to Isphahni dated May 6, 1945 wrote “Corruption is a curse in India and amongst Muslims especially the so called educated and intelligentsia. Unfortunately, it is this class that is selfish and morally and intellectually corrupt. No doubt this disease is common, but amongst this particular class of Muslims, it is rampant”. However, globally, it is now seen that corruption is evident in non-Muslim countries even in greater degrees. In fact, the menace varies with the quality of political and public sector systems prevalent in various countries.
Let us understand what ‘corruption’ means. According to a standard definition, “corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefits. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries. Government or political corruption occurs when an officeholder or other Governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gains.” Stephen D. Morris, a professor of politics writes that (political) corruption is the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest.
NAB ordinance was promulgated in November 1999 as an autonomous Federal institution to combat cases of corruption, financial crimes and economic terrorism under Article 270 AA of the constitution of Pakistan with modifications in the original ordinance of 1999.
NAB appears to have done some good work over the years to combat corruption but it needs to be made more effective and results oriented by making suitable amendments in the Law. The following suggestions may be helpful for our legislatures and NAB.
There is a dire need to issue rules of procedure under the NAB Ordinance 99 for performing various functions under the NAB Law. Such rules of business ought to be specific covering guidelines and time lines for inquires, investigations and legal proceedings, Apart from these provisions, such rules under the NAB Act, should enable NAB to issue specific guidelines, for preventing corruption and promoting good governance in various public sector organisations. These procedural guidelines should be ensured by some sub-constitutional legislation through an Act of Parliament as laws subordinate to the NAB ordinance of 1999.
Public sector mismanagement is a critical factor in corruption and corrupt practices including wastage of public funds, project delays and undue losses. The parameters of mismanagement causing corruption especially in the public sector are the following;
n Prevailing complicated and outmoded procedures, vague and defective rules jargon enhance corruption.
n Lack of quality in public services covering state of the art practices.
n Absence of performance evaluation systems for employees including officers at all levels.
n Prevailing ‘Babu Culture’ in the public sector inherited from colonial Era practices.
n IT Services and automation not adopted.
n Management practices like job specifications and job descriptions of functionaries not specified.
n Absence of corporate culture in public sector companies.
Unfortunately, necessary reforms imperative for overcoming the menace of mismanagement have not been devised, introduced and implemented effectively in the past decades. This has resulted in failures of various policies launched over the years. Even the CPEC – the most vital national project is reportedly suffering from delays. This allegedly came under discussion in a high level meeting of the Federal Government during August 2016. There is a dire need therefore to devise the reforms package with the help of professionals without any further loss of time. This may cover short term and long terms reforms packages.
The reforms package would require a definite timeline for implementation and a check back systems. Peter Drucker, a world known management expert, has laid down the PDCA cycle for result oriented effective implementation of any project and plan. This cycle specifies the essential process ingredients as ‘P’ for planning, ‘D’ for implementation (doing), ‘C’ for checking implementation and ‘A’ for acting to remove implementation plans and corrective actions. This mechanism is widely adopted today for all global management standards.
The menaces of corruption and mismanagement in the public sector in Pakistan are closely related with one another and have to be tackled jointly for their elimination to save the national economy and to end public sufferings. The tide of time may not forgive the nation for any lapses and disregard to the vital reforms requirements mentioned above.