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Dawn

Published Date: Jul 16, 2013

Bureaucracy keeps public away from state services

Bureaucracy is the main hurdle in citizens’ access to services such
as healthcare and education in Pakistan, said speakers during a lecture
here on Monday.

They said the country was not only faced with inefficient and at
times weak bureaucratic structure but also political patronage, lack of
resources and poor accountability mechanisms that kept the public sector
services from the reach of the ordinary citizens.

The lecture ‘Understanding the dynamics of access to public services:
the framework for voice, exit and accountability’ was organised by the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shehryar Toru, a research fellow, said
the most essential form of state services that should be availed by the
citizens were health and education.

But due to poor governance and low standards, people who can afford tend to opt for the private sector, he added.

"The poor are major loser who have to continuously look for state
services as they have no other choice," Dr Toru added. "In advanced
societies, well-functioning bureaucratic systems are the basis of
welfare services provided by the state through an open, fair and
competent administration." He said access to services becomes
problematic in Pakistan where special attention is given to the well-off
people.

He said for ordinary people, particularly the poor and disadvantaged,
getting desired goods and services was a serious problem because of the
bureaucratic procedures.

"Besides, the state institutions in Pakistan are highly politicised
where the behaviour of officials is driven by political clout and
connection with politicians."

Chairing
the proceedings, Naseer Memon, chief executive Strengthening Participatory
Organisation (SPO), said human development had never been a priority agenda in
the ‘security state’ paradigm of Pakistan.