Sindh’s Governance Suffers Due To Its Brutal Bureaucracy

Sindh’s Governance Suffers Due To Its Brutal Bureaucracy
There is always a clear guideline by the cabinet to allocate at least 25 percent of the total cost of a project in each financial year of its phasing. The Planning and Development Department (PDD) always commits the blunder of not allocating the percentage allocated in the guideline.

For example, the total cost of Sindh University Laar Campus is Rs 943 million, out of which a meager amount of Rs 50 Million has been allocated this year. Now, PDD is objecting to the allocation not being the 25 percent it is supposed to be in light of the cabinet’s guidelines. My point is, if the whole Annual Development Programme was approved by the cabinet, why is PDD objecting to one particular scheme only? If someone raises this technical point in a forum, the administration will issue a show cause against him. Bureaucracy in Sindh is turning brutal.

Victimisation is a new normal in Sindh’s PDD, where the administration is replacing its permanent officers with a more compliant, market-based workforce on much lucrative salaries to suit its whims and financial interests. Those who raise their voice against such arbitrary moves are not only victimised through show cause notices, but also by the imposition of major penalties such as removal from service.

One obvious example in this regard is the ‘Youth Employment, Empowerment and Education Programme’, with the co-financing of the government of Sindh and the lead implementing partner, United Nations Development Programme.

The project has been designed to harness the ‘youth bulge’ and aims to promote peace and contribute to the economic growth of Karachi. The project aims for the recognition of the importance of engaging youth in productive economic activities and to help them obtain employment in the garment and other light manufacturing industries. It would help in creating employment opportunities in leading apparel and home textile companies and home-based businesses for the trained youth from the marginalised areas of Karachi.

But the point of contention is that the relevant Sports and Youth Affairs Department of Sindh Government has not been allowed to be a stakeholder in either the implementation or the administrative oversight of the Project Implementation Unit.

Another example of a similar nature is of the Sindh Secondary Education Improvement Program funded by the Asian Development Bank. The project is aimed at constructing new secondary blocks of around 160 secondary schools in 10 districts of Sindh at a tentative concessional loan of $82 Million offered to the government of Sindh. The implementation partners on behalf of the Sindh's government are Sindh Education Foundation and Boards of Intermediate & Secondary Education.

The very idea of Sindh Education Foundation to be accorded the implementing partner’s role is fundamentally flawed and riddled with operational contradictions as the foundation itself implements its own soft programmes through individual consultants and various consultancy firms, even for tasks such as the elementary training of teachers.

When the major projects are designed to accommodate certain foundations, then the departments feel ignored. This leads to them slacking in their core roles and they lose the ability to gradually develop their institutional capacity to manage such projects. This is not an isolated incident, but one that points to a larger issue of mismanagement, a lack of vision and deliberate misgovernance. The government ultimately bears the brunt of it.

One can safely assume that governance in Sindh is both an issue of macro as well as micro-management. Effective governance can be carried out with the right intentions to reform the prevailing structure in the best interests of the citizens of Sindh as opposed to cosmetic measures for serving some vested interests.

The author is a Development Specialist based in Karachi