Published Date: Feb 19, 2012
REFORMS IN E&T DEPT TO BE REPLICATED TO IMPROVE GOVERNANCE CRISIS: HEAD SDPI UN
The reforms introduced in Excise and Taxation department Islamabad have both lessons and potential to be replicated elsewhere to improve the governance crisis in the country.
Dr. Tariq Banuri, former Executive Director SDPI and Head of Sustainable Development Division, United Nations said this while speaking at the special seminar on ‘How could good governance can be ensured at micro-level’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Saturday.
While analyzing the recent massive reforms in E&T department, he said it was necessary to collect the feedback of public through client and user surveys about the usefulness of these reforms besides sustainability of such reforms. He said it was also necessary to learn how time consumption of citizens in vehicle registration reduced or increased as well as impact on government revenue took place before and after the reforms experiment.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ehtasham Anwar, a mid-career civil servant of District Management Group (DMG) said that there were certain pre-requisite to improve the governance at micro-level. These pre-requisite included making an express resolve, following it with concrete actions, openness to suggestions and consultation, willingness to admit and correct mistakes and leading by example.
He said with regard to the main body of micro-model of governance, there were mainly seven major components. He said improvement of working environment was important as a person sitting at a dignified place was likely to attend others with dignity as well. Ensuring strict discipline was the next important task which included punctuality and other related measures. In this regard, Safarish culture needed to be discouraged with full vigor.
Empowering people through information dissemination using all modes of communication such as launching of websites with practical utilities, introducing telephone help lines and pamphlets, reception manned with willing workers was equally important, he said. He was of the view that all discretionary powers needed to be eliminated or restructured as they were often used on the whims and wishes of the relevant officers.
He further said that ultimate aim of any such move should be to win over the hearts and minds of the general public which can be done by introducing one window facility at least for senior citizens, special persons, retired government servants, citizens and women. He also gave the innovative idea of giving VIP status to teachers’ community so as to give them their due status in the society. He also favored a comprehensive system of checks and balances which could ensure all such reforms were being followed in letter and spirit. “However, such an effort should be coupled with offering incentives for the staff in the form of promotions, appropriate salary packages and opportunities to excel in life and career” he added.
Dr. Ehtasham finally shared his experience of working as Director Excise in Islamabad Administration and spoke at length about the successes and failures he came across while following the afore-mentioned model of management.
Shafqat Kakakhel, former ambassador and member Board of Governors SDPI, while highlighting the context of governance and improvement in state-citizen relationship, he hoped that this debate will help us for our common quest of dealing with the governance challenges of the country.
During the question-answer session, the participants raised several questions among which the most important and thoroughly debated was the sustainability of such reforms introduced through individual initiatives. It was maintained that individual examples particularly by set by leadership have the potential to make others learn as well as inspire predecessors for reform replication. Also, to improve the state-client relationship through sustainability of such micro-models could be done by constant and systematic public pressure. Individual reforms could also be sustainable if Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) are revised and more motivation and capacity-building of staff is done besides supportive attitude of seniors and improved content of civil service training.