Wednesday, November 22, 2017

News / Event Detail
Posted on: Friday, November 18, 2016

“Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.”

(From Mr. Saeed-ul-Hassan’s presentation)

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) organized a two-day workshop on social equity and governance in the post 18th Constitutional Amendment environment. The objectives were to create an understanding among the participants of the workshop on:

  • The existing dynamics and changes necessitating integrated approach towards, social equity, governance, public sector delivery systems and governance structures;
  • The evolving concepts and imperatives of social equity in the backdrop of Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Public sector in Pakistan before and after the 18th Amendment;
  • Social equity in the light of case studies such as NRSP, AKRSP, Edhi, SUIT, Citizens’ Foundation Schools, Orangi Pilot Project and other such projects in Pakistan;
  • Government initiatives such as BISP, Bait-ul Mal, youth employment schemes, health care schemes and distribution of land to landless farmers and their efficacy from the perspectives of: provision of universal public services for fair treatment; targeted action for disadvantaged groups; social protection; redistribution and challenging embedded power imbalances.

The modules of the workshop were developed keeping in view the aforementioned objectives. They covered such topics as governance and transparency, operational mechanisms for governing social equity, regional disparities in terms of public service delivery (infrastructure etc.) the role of ethics in promoting social equity, the role of civil society, political parties and private sector in enhancing social equity. Accordingly the resource persons were invited who were experts in these fields and had extensive experience of working in these areas. They were both from the public sector, academia, private sector and international organizations.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Papa Makhtar Mbaye of UNESCO, Islamabad. The title of his presentation was “Governance, Transparency and the Good Society: A General Overview”. The thrust of his discourse was inter alia on: the values and governance and transparency; symbiotic relationship between good governance and transparency; and the importance of leadership. Dilating upon the global trends in governance he alluded to such factors as the rise of non-state actors (both licit and illicit); various forms of contestations; rise of populism; the question what ails democracy; the waning power with a stress on the Three Ms (more; mobility; and mentality revolutions); the end of nation-state in the 21st century; the dynamics of international trade; rising populations; rising inequality; rights revolution; internet governance; new threats from technology and bioscience; climate change and the rise in natural disasters. With regard to transparency the emphasis was on explaining transparency in terms of its normative quality; the users and targets of it as well as drawbacks of transparency on the basis of such questions as does it improve governance. He also highlighted the UN as the premiere forum of global governance as seen from the perspective of SDGs and their framework for action from the prism of four normative dimensions: economic prosperity; social cohesion; environmental stability and good governance. Before ending he narrated the way UNESCO is furthering governance and transparency goals. Sharing his personal thoughts he laid singular focus on Education which should have the aim of developing “individual to gain mastery over self through health, character building, intelligence and technology”; pursuit of “happiness” and understanding of “fundamental truths”.

The subsequent speakers highlighted the following points:

  • Equity revolved around fairness and social justice and is not the same as equality. It is not about everyone getting the same thing but everyone getting what they need;
  • Approaches to good governance in Pakistan related to taxation issues; police reforms, participation questions; civil society and social capital; access to justice; corporate governance; public sector management; capacity building and e-governance;
  • At the policy level the way forward would be doing: whatever is measurable and whatever is manageable;
  • In so far as operational mechanisms were concerned in recognition of diversity, 18th amendment was the first step towards broader reform agenda which would fundamentally restructure the mutli-order public governance system in Pakistan. There were some challenges to good governance and factors obstructing social change were identified as: imperfect current income distribution; existence of dual urban-rural system; inequality in income distribution among rural-urban areas; lack of focus on fairness in rights, exchanges, opportunities and distribution; and imbalances in the distribution of resources;
  • BISP presentation provided rationale for Social Safety Net (SSN) which was aimed at protecting poor communities from negative income shocks. BISP had three SSN programmes: unconditional cash transfer; development programmes; and income generating programmes. Their objectives were: to increase consumption of the poor; investing in human capital; strengthening links with income generating activities; and increased access to social services. Detailed briefing on BISP included outreach activities and information about various programmes as well as aims and achievements of the three phases of BISP programmes. Women empowerment and their mainstreaming was of special focus together with the BISP programmes’ impact on poverty and nutrition;
  • Universal primary education is an endeavor that enjoys priority and has direct relevance to social equity. There were initiatives for promoting universal primary education and informal education at the provincial and local levels as well as on informal basic education. The serious constraint was that of financial resources for education and such emphasis on social equity and governance, uplifting of backward areas and disadvantaged children was needed. Education equity issues were essentially social equity issues. Policies were essential for addressing the issues of low budget for education; poverty, cultural norms, gender division of labour, lack of vision of leaderships; shortage of schools, shortage of female teachers and conflict. Some challenges can be overcome through flexible school timings, primary education that can be made free and compulsory and equal opportunities and wages;
  • Directorate of Municipal Administration presented a brief account of the newly established set up, its administrative structures, division of jurisdiction vis-à-vis other similar organizations such as CDA. With regard to social equity and governance in relation to public service delivery inter alia it was clarified that among its functions Municipal Administration handled water and sewerage, emergency and disaster management including health and 1122 service, solid waste management. Information about future activities and expansion of programmes was also shared.

There was active participation from the group members which was possible only because of interactive sessions held by the resource persons who owe our appreciation and gratitude.