Tackling corruption

Published Jul 07, 2013 03:51am

THE Pakistani electorate vehemently endorsed the slogan of Roshan Pakistan by voting in its architects — the PML-N.

However, the electorate was thoughtful enough not to wholly reject the slogan of Naya Pakistan by providing its architects — the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf a test bed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Promises to eradicate corruption, if elected to power, remained the hallmark of the political campaigns of both parties.

Of course, rhetorical statements will not do much to soothe the sufferings of the nation. Those who have won the votes can win the hearts of the masses only through concrete policy reforms to eradicate corruption from the country. Here is my input.

First, almost all successful strategies on fighting corruption around the world have used ‘political will’ as the first ingredient in the preparation of anti-corruption recipes.

The incumbent government can demonstrate this will, restore public confidence and show its commitment to the fight against corruption by initially appointing an advisor or technical coordinator on corruption — a person with expertise in coming up with and implementing anti-corruption strategies.

Equally important is the need for a clear road map to fight the menace. Such a road map would ensure that the government and its ministries include anti-corruption strategies in their long-term plans.

Second, to ensure the continuity of anti-corruption policies, the government should build partnerships with universities and policy institutes. Such a move would make policy entrepreneurs and academicians important stakeholders in the fight against corruption; their input is necessary to critically analyse and suggest remedies in the ongoing process of anti-corruption reforms.

Third, the National Accountability Bureau seems to present itself as a special candidate for restructuring. The incumbent government needs to examine and borrow successful anti-corruption strategies from other Asian countries.

The history of NAB is not very different from that of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Board — the anti-corruption agency of Singapore. But reforms in the CPIB resulted in Singapore turning out to be among the least corrupt countries in the world.

Contrary to the practice at NAB, the director of the CPIB reports to the prime minister but to ensure transparency two independent committees review the performance of the anti-corruption body periodically. Such a role can be assigned either to the Supreme Court or the Public Accounts Committee.

To ensure the impartiality of the chairman NAB and to reduce his arbitrary powers, the government should constitute a board comprising a chairperson and four deputy chairpersons, one from each province.

A similar experiment by KPK — the anti-corruption agency in Indonesia that is led by a five-person commissioners’ board — has been very successful. Contrary to the current policing practices, introducing community-friendly anti-corruption policies would win the goodwill of the public — a strategy successfully implemented by the anti-corruption agency of Hong Kong.

Fourth, places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia that focused on a single anti-corruption agency were more successful in fighting corruption than those countries that relied on a multiple-agency model as in Pakistan.

Consolidating all anti-corruption agencies into a meaningful single agency would enhance efficacy. However, given the political and bureaucratic hiccups, establishing a coordinating board seems to be a practical option since half a dozen agencies are fighting corruption in a defined or undefined way with overlapping mandates and without any coordination mechanism amongst them.

The establishment of an anti-corruption interagency coordination board akin to the Corruption Interagency Coordination Council of Georgia, comprising all the heads of anti-corruption agencies/ wings in Pakistan with rotational chairmanship would enhance the operational efficiency of these agencies.

Fifth, according to a National Corruption Perception Survey, carried out by Transparency International Pakistan (TIP), the police department has persistently performed negatively.

The process of reforms in the police department (as well as in all other public departments) should begin with an understanding of the corruption formula C=M+D-A given by Prof Robert Klitgaard. ‘C’ in the formula stands for corruption, ‘M’ is for monopoly, ‘D’ is for discretion and ‘A’ stands for accountability.

According to Klitgaard, conferring absolute authority on an officer, imbalance between powers and salary and the absence of accountability mechanisms lead to corruption.

Hence, creating a balance between salaries and powers, curtailing monopolistic powers and installing a monitoring mechanism to check discretionary powers would be the right beginning for police reforms.

Sixth, the sustainability of anti-corruption reforms in Pakistan can be achieved by launching, sustaining, and refining an anti-corruption curriculum in schools, the civil services and military academies and police training centres.

In addition, government and anti-corruption agencies should together launch a rigorous and comprehensive national movement, through the print and electronic media, to educate people about corruption and its negative fallout.

Finally, for the Philippines, Michael Johnston proposed an ‘eminent persons group’ to be formed from many segments of society to advise on anti-corruption reforms.

With few modifications, the same model can be applied to Pakistan. TIP could be given the task of constituting such groups at the provincial and district levels. It could act as the official transparency watchdog with the responsibilities of coordination, information-sharing, monitoring and overseeing the enforcement process.

Anti-corruption strategies are not confined to this seven-stage model. But it should form a good base for any initial step if the goal is to root out corrupt practices.

The writer is a doctorate student at the Claremont Graduate University, Los Angeles.


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Comments (3) Closed


khayambeg
Jul 07, 2013 02:43pm

an excellent piece full of practical examples and a clear cut solution,, i feel the the seven model can be best implement in pakistan if we want to get rid of this evil corruption. that's the way forward (Y)

Nikhil
Jul 08, 2013 12:02am

a very well researched opinion! Kudos to the writer and the dawn for highlighting the actual issues of today's society.

Asif Usmani
Jul 08, 2013 12:36am

@khayambeg: Rather fishy when Khayam Beg endorses the formula proposed by Saranjam Beyg:) No relation I hope!