A leaner government?

Published June 21, 2024

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has reiterated his government’s ‘commitment’ to shutting down ministries and departments already devolved to the provinces, following the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, but that are still being retained at the federal level for political reasons. The main reason behind this thinking seems to be the growing pressure on the government to contain its current expenditure as ministries and departments have been imposing heavy costs on the federal budget. It is not clear exactly how much Islamabad is spending from the taxpayers’ money to keep the devolved subjects. However, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, whose party led the wider political consensus that ensured the passage of the landmark amendment in 2010, had reportedly claimed during the election campaign that abolishing 17 federal ministries would save Rs300bn.

The 18th Amendment is among the most important constitutional reforms in Pakistan’s history. Sadly, its provisions have not been fully implemented. Rather, the appetite for carrying forward the good work was lost soon after the passage of the amendment in parliament. This was so, in spite of strong demands by the smaller provinces as well as the large expenditure borne by the federation on account of subjects that no longer concerned it. As a matter of fact, the federal government has gone out of its way to retain some subjects and functions, with some centrist forces hoping that the amendment will be rolled back one day. Indeed, the amendment is more about provincial autonomy than any other item. But reduction in the size of the federal government, duplication of public expenditure by the centre and the provinces despite the abolition of the Concurrent Legislative List, and the transfer of most responsibilities to the federating units were also equally important objectives. Will the current government be able to translate its rhetoric on the implementation of this reform into action? It remains to be seen.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Population calamity
Updated 22 Jul, 2024

Population calamity

Pakistan can also control its growth rate by following the examples of its peers and implementing functional family planning programmes and campaigns.
Blow to occupation
22 Jul, 2024

Blow to occupation

THE International Court of Justice has delivered a legal blow to the decades-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian...
Seeking Priya Kumari
22 Jul, 2024

Seeking Priya Kumari

PRIYA Kumari — the minor girl who vanished on Ashura in 2021 while serving water at a sabeel in Sukkur district ...
Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.