This column is first part of series of columns on governance.
Governance in Balochistan province appears, of course, touching the lowest ebb. Specifically, it is aptly reflecting a failure of no match when it comes to administer the burden of providing education and health facilities to the unlucky dwellers of the soil.
Despite all tall promises and claims – along with unprecedented rhetoric- with regard to transforming the sectors of health and education on the part of the successive governments, particularly the one currently reining the strings of governance in the province, nothing of substance appears to have been created and delivered yet.
Almost every latest study’s findings with reference to the performance of the two sectors point to the apathetic and gruesome state of affairs that continue to plague the life of an ordinary man in the province. There appears no need to mention or to allude to the stats of the various studies that testify the failure of public policy in the sectors of health and education. Instead, there arises a need to initiate a discourse that may lead to set a direction for the government, which apparently seems to have lost in the woods when it comes to evaluate its policies or bring necessary reforms to certain public policy domains.
Undoubtedly, bad governance in education and health sectors is worth-condemning, and it is incumbent upon the government to launch drastic structural reforms in the aforesaid sectors without wasting further time. While embarking on the path of transformation in the two sectors, it is of prime importance that the government must take into account the participatory approach and at the same time it should also renounce the practice of solo-flight, an important invention of the bureaucracy of the country. In this perspective, the important and relevant stakeholders of the society must be encouraged to lend a helping hand to the government by providing their precious input. Hence by allowing unusual practice of allowing the people to participate in governance will earn for it a reputation that it is willing and serious to improve governance in the province. Otherwise, the fate of the sitting setup would be no different from the foregoing one that used to recite fairy tales before the gullible and plane people of the province by resorting to the craft of rhetoric.
Before the government embarks on the long journey of bringing about radical structural reforms to the aforementioned sectors, I would like to get across certain, genuine suggestions that are to be marked as a part of the prescribed debate leading to bring about governance reforms in the sectors of health and education in the province.
Health sector governance appears to be performing the worst ever in the province. Here, the center of attention should not be a persona non grata when it comes to criticize the governance of the sector. Rather, it ought to be emphasized that how to bring about constructive and practicable reforms in terms of policy formulation and execution. Various measures should be taken on priority basis. One, the government must be fully aware of the key culprit that is responsible to bad governance in the health sector; it is the leadership crisis at various tiers of administration in the sector. Apart from one of the key decision making seats of the secretary of the department, rest of the leading administrative seats, at provincial, divisional and district levels, are occupied by extremely incapable stuff that are least trained and skilled in the art of governance.
Partially, this issue can be tackled by introducing the concept of posting officers from the Balochistan Civil Service (BCS-EB) to the key decision making and administration posts at provincial, divisional and district levels. For instance, the Director General Health Services, one of the most important seats of administration in health sector, can be assigned to a grade 19-20 PAS (previously called DGM) or BCS-EB officer. Similarly, divisional administrative officers of the department i.e. the Divisional Directors should also be officials belonging to the aforesaid executive groups in appropriate grades. This initiative will also open an opportunity for expansion of the executive service of the province, which, comparatively, appears better than the doctor-cum-administrator option for administering the most important sector of governance. The administrative/general cadre of the health department, which includes medical doctors, should be shifted to the technical assignments in aid to the administrators. The posting of the PAS/PCS officers must be followed by introduction of a system of tough accountability of the officers for the execution of the policy of the sector, which is currently not available in the province. In this regard, measureable key performance indicators (KPIs) can be assigned to the officers. The KPIs must be evaluated in a way that either brings a reward or a punishment, unlike the ongoing practice of preparing an annual confidential report (ACR) by a senior based on personal likes and dislikes. (TO BE CONTINUED)
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