Published Date: Feb 10, 2012
EXPERTS EMPHASIZE ON INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY (SAC), COP ON SAC FORMED
Speakers, while highlighting the importance of social accountability in ensuring good governance and effective public service delivery, called for institutionalization of social accountability tools at government level and urge the citizens to play active role in public sector accountability process.
They said it at the ‘National consultation on formation of community of practices on social accountability tools in Pakistan’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Thursday. The delegates of civil society organizations from all across the country participated in the proceedings. It was explained that social accountability approach relies on civic engagement in which ordinary citizens and civil society organizations have a vital monitoring and accountability role.
Zaffarullah Khan, Executive Director, Center for Civic Education, Islamabad highlighted governance gaps in development programmes in Pakistan. He said, government’s development initiatives depend on input-based measures while ignoring the results and outputs of various projects. He also lamented government’s lack of capacity to run development projects adding that 82 percent of development budget lapsed last year. He called for establishing a local district government civil service cadre that may help in establishing enhanced accountability, empowerment and effective service delivery at local level. He was of the view that ‘Right to information’ is essential in ensuring social accountability but governments have only provided lip service as compared to exceptional progress made in India and Bangladesh.
Gulbaz Ali Khan of SDPI spoke on concepts and dimensions of social accountability tools. While citing political, fiscal, administrative and legal barriers in government led accountability process, he highlighted the need for demand side or citizen led accountability mechanisms in the country. He lamented over poor service delivery of state institutions which were lagging behind in taking care of the needs of citizens especially the poor. “Injecting further funds in the system may be the one aspect of solution but there is a need to increase efficiency, effectiveness and equity of public expenditures” he underlined. He said implementation of social accountability practices may enhance civic engagement with improved governance, increase in developmental effectiveness and informed policy decisions that can lead to poverty reduction, strengthening of democracy and people’s empowerment.
Marvi Sirmed of Strengthening Democracy through Parliamentary Development (SDPD) spoke on importance of civic engagements in budgetary allocations and said Pakistan has no mechanisms of incorporating peoples aspirations in budget
preparations. ‘Unlike Pakistan, countries such as Brazil and Bangladesh, which practice participatory budget allocations, have witnessed vivid improvements in educations, health and other social sector programmes” she added. She also called for devising institution of ‘Public Hearings’ in parliamentary standing committees to make it more accountable, efficient and representative of aspirations of people of the country.
Farzana Saleem, Chief Operating Officer, Hisaar Foundation, Karachi, deliberated on building mutual accountability mechanisms where all stakeholders are accountable to each other including government agencies, private sector, civil
society organizations and citizens. She said general public may also be sensitized towards civic responsibilities and their conscious behavior is necessary for such accountability and good governance culture.
Syed Waqar Gillani stressed on institutionalization of social accountability tools for providing effective service delivery and ensuring transparency at federal, provincial and local levels. Other delegates including Adnan Rasool and Fayyaz Yaseen of SDPI also spoke on the occasion.