Party versus Jamaat

Party versus Jamaat
Tahir Ali September 28, 2014

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/party-versus-jamaat/#.VCw2s6zOXp8

The job of mediation has brought Sirajul Haq to the centre of mainstream politics, shown his worldview as distinct from the previous amir and exposed the fissures within the party

In the current political stalemate triggered by the Inqilab and Azadi dharnas, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq, the newly elected agile amir, has taken up the role of a mediator and fire-fighter reminding of the political elder Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Facilitating a dialogue between the seemingly uncompromising Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri and the government is a commendable effort has earned him goodwill among the masses. But his efforts are unlikely to succeed for several reasons.

He says he has the solution wherein every stakeholder in the conflict will get something without compromising on their demands. But there are problems here. He has not been authorised by any party in the conflict for he has no stance on certain important aspects of the crisis or hasn’t made it public even if he has.

Does Haq believe the elections were massively rigged as Imran Khan alleges? What is his position on the PM’s resignation? Does he support Khan’s strategy of removing the Khan government through street power or his call for civil disobedience? Does he accept the current crisis is a tussle between forces of status quo or change, or a fight between two viewpoints?

Without having any stand on these and other issues is tantamount to adopting a strategy and a line of action without first having formed a viewpoint on the issue. Unless one has a clear agenda and terms of references for the dialogue and has the courage to shun unwarranted humility and courtesy and neglect party interests that bar you from displeasing or taking sides with or against someone, one cannot be a successful mediator.

Haq, it seems, is in favour of accepting some demands of Khan but is convinced his strategy is wrong. While Haq has made the resignation of PM conditional with the findings of the judicial commission, he hasn’t made his stance public.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could even be an ally of the PPP. The current Jamaat is not interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from assemblies.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could even be an ally of the PPP in future. Khan’s calling the two big parties as corrupt and hands in glove with each other, his being soft on militancy and hard on military operation, and strategy of dharna/mob agitation has similarities with the Jamaat under the late Qazi Husain Ahmad, the former amir of JI. But the current Jamaat is not interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from assemblies. Yet it is not opposing Imran Khan.

Some believe JI and PTI are polls apart as far as their objectives, strategies, style and preferences are concerned and dub their coalition as a marriage of convenience. JI workers oppose Khan for his style and strategy privately, though they are reluctant to say it on record for they don’t want to forego their alliance and assembly seats and ministries for that matter.

“Jamaat’s efforts for compromise are laudable but it needs to part ways with the PTI especially after the revelations of Javed Hashmi because JI is for constitutionalism and democracy while PTI is indulging in anarchic politics. Besides, PTI is a liberal party arranging music nights in dharnas while JI is a religious party that observes Hijab day. It doesn’t want, and rightly so, to lose its ministries and assembly seats,” says a political worker wishing anonymity.

Haq, it seems, may also push the Jamaat away from its jihadi paradigm of the 1990s and the radical tendencies of its previous Amir Munawar Hasan to its original preaching, democratic, constitutional paradigm of Syed Abul Ala Maududi era. Maududi never approved of jihad by private outfits without a formal declaration of war by the state.

Even though Haq was embarrassed by Khan when his suggestion to the prime minister of recounting in ten constituencies was disowned by Khan, he can still try to save both Khan and PTI from committing political suicide and the country from economic, social and political threats and losses.

Sirajul Haq also has to decide whether JI is an Islamic movement or a political party. The demands, preferences and strategies of the two are invariably distinct and often conflicting. As an Islamic movement, the entire nation is its audience, so it cannot be a party in a political tussle. As a political party, others are its rivals and it has to take sides and compete with them for its political survival.

Though JI has failed to become a popular political/electoral force, it has had a huge influence on the society, politics and national priorities. In its endeavours to become a popular force, it lost its identity as an ideological religious movement and could not become a big party either. It is because even though Pakistanis respect its social services — JI’s Al Khidmat Foundation is doing commendable work for the temporarily displaced persons in KP — they are not ready to support it as a political party.

Tahir Ali
The author is an academic and a freelance columnist. He blogs at tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com.
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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE SENT TO THE NEWS

Mediators in plenty but Confusion galore
Or Appeasement galore

By Tahir Ali

The current political stalemate triggered by the Inqilab and Azadi Dharnas would have long been solved by now had the parties/politicians, including Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and its Amir Sirajul Haq, who are mediating between the federal government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, preferred national interests over their political concerns and united the nation against the wrongdoers.

Politics is a game of possibilities and an endeavour to gain power. An ally in politics today could be a rival tomorrow. It is not clear who will be the ultimate beneficiary or loser of the crisis but every party/leader hopes of filling the vacuum created by the failure of one party in the conflict or the other. JI too, like other political parties, is entitled thus to hope for the best. When all –government, political-religious parties, media and other stakeholders- are only doing what is beneficial to them, JI current stance seems ambiguous but realistic.

It is tragic there is no fair/bold mediator in the country these days who could call a spade a spade. Mr Haq, the newly elected agile Amir, has taken up the role of mediator and fire-fighter like Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Facilitating a dialogue between the seemingly uncompromising Imran Khan (IK) and Tahirul Qadri and the government is a commendable effort which has earned him goodwill among the masses but his effort are unlikely to succeed for several reasons.

He says he has the solution wherein every stakeholder in the conflict will be given a face-saving without compromising on his demands. But there are problems here. He has not been authorised by any party in the conflict for he has no stance on certain important aspects of the crisis or hasn’t made it public if he has any.

In its present shape IK and Pakistan Tehreek-e -Insaf (PTI) both represent a viewpoint and a strategy. The nation needs guidance and clear-cut stand on some issues. Is IK correct in both stand and strategy? If no, he must be opposed and the government supported. If yes, he must be supported and the government opposed. Certain politicians, including Mr Haq, are ambiguous in their stances for they don’t want to annoy one or the other player in the conflict. But though it is bad to have a wrong stand, it is worse to have none either.

Mr Haq hasn’t given his viewpoint on the issue and extent of rigging in election. Does he believe the elections were massively rigged as IK alleges or vice versa? Were the election commission, caretaker governments, returning officers and higher judiciary, Nawaz Sharif, media houses etc involved in rigging or is IK wrong? What is his position on PM resignation? Is IK’s policy/strategy of removing the NS government through street power or his call for civil disobedience, asking for non-payment of taxes and services’ bills correct or wrong or right? Does he accept the current crisis is a tussle between forces of statusquo or change, as IK says, or a fight between two viewpoints: one represented by earlier Taliban and now IK and Qadri –that state institutions are incapable/corrupt so they need to be changed with might (gun in Taliban’s strategy and mob agitation in IK and Qadri strategy) – and two, that this strategy is flawed, will entail chaos and that change should/can be brought only through constitutional and democratic means? He says dialogue is the only solution but what if one side doesn’t believe in it (IK says I won’t wrap up the dharna unless PM Nawaz resigns)? Is it right to equate and treat at par the state and non-state actors both during talks with Taliban and now in Dharna imbroglio as was done by JI? Is it right to remain silent when non-state actors violate law and their commitments and criticise the government when it arrests the violators of law and attackers on parliament? Is it just to say that arrests by government harm the dialogue process but the dialogue is never threatened when the other side attacks the state installations and security personnel? Can a man be an accuser and judge simultaneously? Can someone be condemned or removed merely on an allegation? Does he accept IK’s take on total collapse of state institutions? Does he accept or doubt the London plan or that local/ foreign hands are behind the dharnas? Also, how will change and reform occur –through constitutional means of votes and parliament legislation or by extra-constitutional methods of mob power or the ‘third umpire’? What is to be done if talks and dialogue fail? Shouldn’t the parties collectively oppose the side which is bent on an anti-democratic/extra constitutional agenda and strategy? Is it right to use religion for politics? Do good ends justify bad means or means must also be fair?

Without having any stands on these and other issues is tantamount to adopting a strategy and a line of action without first having formed a viewpoint on an issue or putting the cart ahead of a bullock. Unless one has a clear agenda on, and terms of references for, the dialogue and has the courage to shun unwarranted humility and courtesy and neglect party interests that bar you from displeasing or taking sides with or against someone, one cannot be a successful mediator.
.
At present, political expediency is being preferred over demands of national solidarity and constitutionalism. The nation just cannot endure the anarchy, political instability and the constitutional depravity which is at hand if the confrontation lingers on. Those who believe in mob justice and invite towards hatred, lawlessness and violation of laws, even if for good purposes, are promoting chaos. They need to be exposed and opposed.

Mr Haq, it seems, is for accepting some demands of IK but thinks, prima facie, his strategy is wrong. He is against his demand of resignation of PM Nawaz Sharif this is why he has conditioned the resignation of PM with findings of the judicial commission. He however hasn’t made his stance public.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could be even partner of PPP in future if one goes by his intimacy with Rehman Malik. Hence

IK’s opinion (of dubbing the two big parties as corrupt and hands in glue with each other and being soft on militancy and hard on military operation) and strategy (of Dharna/mob agitation) has similarities with the JI, especially with that of the Late Qazi Husain Ahmad -ex Amir of JI but JI is not with him for JI seems no more interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from elections and assemblies but it is opposing him neither. Some believe JI and PTI are polls apart on their objectives, strategies, style and preferences and dub their coalition as a marriage of convenience. JI workers oppose IK for his style and strategy privately though they are reluctant to say it on record for it doesn’t want to forego its alliance and assembly seats and ministries for that matter.

“JI efforts for compromise are laudable but it needs to part ways with PTI especially after the revelations of Javed Hashmi because JI is for constitutionalism and democracy while PTI is indulging in anarchic politics. Besides, PTI is a liberal party arranging music nights in dharnas while JI is a religious party that observe Hejab day. But perhaps it doesn’t want, and rightly so, to lose its ministries and assembly seats and wants status quo to continue” says a political worker wishing anonymity.

Mr Haq, it seems, may also push JI away from its Jihadi paradigm of the 1990s and the radical tendencies of its previous Amir Munawar Hasan to its original preaching/democratic/constitutional paradigm of Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi era who never approved of Jihad by private outfits without formal declaration of war by the state.

Even though Mr Haq was embarrassed by IK when his suggestion to NS of recounting in ten constituencies was disowned by IK, he can still be effective vis-à-vis IK and he should try to save IK and PTI from committing political suicide and the country from economic, social and political threats and losses. But for this a jirga of all opposition parties, religious scholars, retired judges, generals, journalists, civil society etc should be formed. It should immediately listen to both parties and contemplate over solution in its confidential sessions. Then it should take neutral and rightful decisions. It should ask the parties to behave and if any side continues with its intransigence, it should unite the entire nation against it.

Mr Haq also has to decide whether JI is an Islamic movement or a political party. The demands, preferences and strategies of the two are invariably distinct and often conflicting. As an Islamic movement, the entire nation is its audience, so it cannot be a party in a political tussle. As a political party, others are its rivals and it has to take sides and compete with them its political survival.

Though JI has failed to become a popular political/electoral force, it has had influenced our society, politics and national priorities. In its endeavours to become to a popular force, it lost its identity as an ideological religious movement but couldn’t become a big party either. It is because even though Pakistanis respect its social services -JI’s Alkhidmat Foundation is doing commendable work for the temporarily displaced persons in KP- but aren’t ready to support it as a political party. It is because there is no room for politics based on religion especially after the enactment and enforcement of the 1973 constitution.

PTI poised to leave KP people in the lurch

PTI was voted to power in KP but it is eager to leave this responsibility to others and to snatch Takhte Lahore from others. It`s a bitter reality for KP and other
provinces excluding Punjab. The
latter is a kingmaker province as
55 percent members in NA come
from here. I had written article
on the issue and advocated that provinces need to be given equal
weight in PM election as is given
to them in president`s election. I
am at a loss to understand as to why
nationalists like the Late A Wali khan and
others from smaller provinces didn’t advocate for equal weight
for provinces and signed a
constitutional mechanism that
empowered Punjab to suffice for
forming federal govt alone. This
doesn’t mean Punjab`s seats in parliament be reduced. Its seats
can be increased even more but
the votes from its members in
PM election must be given parity
or equal weightage in that
election. As things stand today, small provinces are at a
disadvantageous position visavis
Punjab. In senate, which has less
and no financial powers and
authority to vote in PM election,
provinces have equal membership. But in NA, Punjab
has hegemony over the rest of
Pakistan in PM election who rules
the entire country and not
Punjab alone. Isn’t it injustice?

Comments

Mustafa Nazir Ahmad

Point well raised but probably you are forgetting that the Senate was supposed to be more powerful than the NA. I still believe that if Senate is genuinely empowered, many of Pakistan’s problems can be solved

Tahir Ali Khan

Mustafa sb in parliamentary system almost everywhere, the upper chamber is less powerful. And it traditionally has no role in the election of chief executive. And in Pakistan, Senate has no financial/budget related powers as well. My points were/are: provines should have present unequal membership but equal weightage in the election of pm in NA as is the case in election of president these days; or provinces should have equal membership in NA with powers to elect pm remaining with it and membership in Senate be determined on basis of population with or with no such powers; or equal membership for provinces be retained in Senate and the election of pm should be left to it.

Mustafa Nazir Ahmad

Agreed but again probably genuine devolution of powers to provinces coupled with an empowered senate is a more workable solution. In multi-ethnic societies like Pakistan, Senate has to be empowered and that is easier than bringing the amendments you are proposing. You know how elections to Senate are conducted with people like Azam Swati or Gulzar Khan getting elected from KP or Balochistan without support of any party, based on their wealth

Tahir Ali Khan

so your preference seems to be that provinces should have equal weight in pm election though with present memebership and senate should have more powers.
Mustafa Nazir Ahmad

Mustafa Nazir Ahmad

I get your point and fully agree with it but still think there are better ways of doing it. Division of Punjab in at least two and ideally three provinces is the best solution so that anyone could not become a PM by winning in Punjab alone

Taxatio reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Taxation reforms in KP
By Tahir Ali
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government several has suggested several amendments to the relevant laws and revised the ratio of taxes in the 2014-15 budget.
It wishes to amend the first schedule of the sales tax act which will enable it to bring some more sectors in the tax net.
Rather than going for robust industrial revival and economic growth to increase its revenue, KP has opted for raising the ratio of tobacco development cess, land tax, agriculture income tax, professional tax and other taxes, levies, fees, duties and royalties such as the stamp duty, parking fees, route permits and royalties on forests for the purpose.
KP will generate provincial own receipts (PORs) of Rs28.78bn against current year’s Rs20bn. The PORs consist of tax receipts of Rs19.45bn (67.6%) and non-tax receipts of Rs.9.327bn (32.4%). Tax receipts include 11.8% direct taxes and 88.2% indirect taxes.

However the PORs will only be seven per cent of the total revenue receipts of the province as usual. PORs are projected to increase to Rs32.5bn and Rs36.6 in the next two years.

PORs include direct taxes like taxes on agriculture, property, land revenue etc, indirect taxes like GST on services, provincial excise, motor vehicle tax, stamp duties etc, and non tax receipts like income from property and enterprises, civil administration and economic, community and social services.

To improve tax collection, tax facilitation centres to be set up in Peshawar and other big cities. And Patwaris, who play pivotal role, have been given 50 per cent pay raise and Rs500 stationary allowance to discourage corruption and improve agriculture/land tax collection.

Agriculture tax
KP has been collecting direct taxes -Land Revenue (water tax or Abiana), agriculture income tax (AIT) and Land tax (LT) –and non tax heads (user charges) from farming community.

AIT/LT is collected by the Revenue and Estates department while LR is collected by the irrigation department through the patwaris from the farmers.

The AIT is collected on different rates from the owner, mortgagee or lessee or the tenants and levied on income from cultivated land while LT at a fixed rate over and above the exempted 12/5 acres of land under crops and orchards. Their rates have however been revised.

Target for AIT/LT and LR has been fixed at Rs79mn and Rs1.4bn against Rs22mn and Rs1.1bn budget estimates of the current year.

The exemption from AIT has been raised from Rs0.1mn to Rs0.4mn. 5 percent AIT would be collected from every owner of agriculture land if his income is over Rs0.4mn but doesn’t exceed Rs0.55mn. Where income exceeds Rs0.55mn but not Rs0.75mn, land owners will pay Rs7,500 plus 10 percent on the amount over Rs0.55mn. And when the income goes above Rs0.75mn but not Rs0.95mn, the owner will pay Rs22,500 plus 10 percent tax on the amount exceeding Rs0.75mn.On agriculture income between Rs0.95mn and Rs1.1mn, Rs42,500 plus 15 percent tax on the exceeding amount. And a land owner will pay Rs65000 tax plus 17.5 percent if his income exceeds Rs1.1mn.

Similarly, the rate for LT has been increased from Rs72 per acre over and above the exempted 12/5 acres of land under crops to Rs225-340 and to Rs900 from Rs300/acre for orchards.

Urban immoveable property (UIP) tax

The government has also revised and extended the scope of property tax. A proper survey will be conducted to properly determine property tax.
Earlier, 2 per cent capital value tax had been imposed on the transaction of UIP (residential flats and multi-storey buildings) but the 2 per cent tax had not to be less than Rs10 per square feet of constructed area. The condition has been waived and it will now be levied according to the classifications of constructed area.
Similarly, the ‘low’ ratio of UIP tax on houses of 15-20 marlas will be increased for houses on 18 marla or above.
Immovable properties have been divided into 12 categories. An owner of upto 5 marlas house (other than self-occupied) in category A, B and C (townships) in Peshawar will pay Rs1000, Rs 900 and Rs750 in UIP respectively. Owners of over 5 marlas will pay UIP tax of Rs1700, Rs1600 and Rs1500, owners of 10 marlas will pay Rs2200, Rs2100 and Rs2000, owners of 15 marlas house will deposit Rs3300, Rs3200, and Rs3000 while those with 18-20 marlas houses and flats will pay UIP tax of Rs10000, Rs9000, Rs8000 the three categories respectively.
Any land or building used for mobile towers or antennas which pays UIP tax at flat rate of 20 per cent of their annual rent will give Rs40000 annual tax in provincial, Rs30,000 in divisional and Rs20000 in district headquarters.
Critics opine that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, UIP tax will be extended to the suburbs at the district level in the KP budget (however this decision has been withdrawn in the finance act, 2014-15 passed by the provincial assembly)
The employees of grade 1-5 have been exempted from the tax. All government employees from scale5-22 will be giving annual tax between Rs100 and Rs2000.
Professional tax
Almost all professionals, business and services, with exclusion of lawyers, like chartered accounts, transporters, money changers, jewellers, cable operators, tobacco whole sellers, and businesses like petrol/diesel/CNG stations, real estate shops/ agencies vehicle service stations, printing presses etc will be in the tax-net now.
The professional tax threshold has been increased from Rs6000/pm to Rs10000 a month but as minimum monthly pay has also been fixed at Rs12000/pm ( as per the finance act, the minimum pay has been increased to Rs15000), practically all are to be taxed.
Those earning Rs10,000-Rs20,000/month will pay professional tax of Rs330 while the tax will be Rs435, Rs600, Rs800 and Rs1,000 respectively for those earning Rs20,000-Rs50,000, Rs Rs50,000-Rs100,000, Rs100,000-Rs200,000 and Rs200,000-Rs500,000/month.
The private limited companies, modarbas and mutual funds etc with paid-up capital and income of Rs10mn per annum in the previous year will pay tax of Rs18000 and Rs100000 if their income is over Rs200mn.
Persons owning factories, commercial establishments, private educational institutions and private hospitals will also pay tax. Any commercial establishment having 10 or more employees will pay tax of Rs10000 and private hospitals with 50 employees will pay Rs50000 tax a year.
Private business education institutes with 100 students will pay Rs70000 tax. Private law, medical and engineering colleges running degree programmes will pay Rs100000 tax, while educational institutes taking Rs5000 monthly fee from students have to pay Rs100000 annually.
Holders of import/export licence who earn Rs50000 in previous year will pay Rs4000 tax. A clearing or custom agent will pay Rs10000 and restaurants/guesthouses owners, professional caterers, travel agents and hajj/tour operators will pay Rs15000 tax while wedding halls owners Rs30000 annual tax.
Specialist doctors will pay Rs20000 while dentists Rs15000 professional tax a year. Diagnostic and therapeutic centres and pathological and chemical laboratories will also be taxed.
Experts say by directly collecting income tax from professionals and commercial entities, the KP government is intruding into the domain of the federal government which is exclusively authorised to collect income tax.
It is still not clear whether these taxes on employees and professionals would be in addition to the income tax?
It is merits mentioning that under the Finance Act 2013, KP had finalised arrangements to impose the infrastructure development cess but could not do so following objections from the federal government.
After the 18th amendment, excise duty on oil was to be imposed under Article 161(1)(b) of Pakistan’s constitution but it is yet to be levied. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could receive Rs14.6bn on this count.
While the government claims it wishes to provide relief to the poor and collect tax only from the rich, these measures may ultimately burden the common men and will be resisted by the businessmen, farmers and the working class impacted by slump in business and price-hike.

 

 

Dawn-KP budget 2014-15

Progressive taxation of farm incomes

By Tahir Ali

Published Jun 23, 2014 06:11am

http://www.dawn.com/news/1114457/progressive-taxation-of-farm-incomes

The Rs404.8bn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa balanced budget for 2014-15, with a Rs139.8bn annual development programme, is aimed at addressing economic, social and industrial woes of the impoverished province, but falls short of business expectations.
“It is a status-quo budget devoid of any change, vision and reform agenda, and neglects the potential sectors. KP is beset with flight of capital, rising unemployment, terrorism and energy shortage. Joblessness is on the rise — there is 14.8pc unemployment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Emergency steps are needed for economic growth, industrial revival, infrastructure development, energy supply, revival of sick industrial units and improvement in law and order and technical and IT education. But there is no proper roadmap for these areas.
“The government has failed to give new mineral, industrial, hydro, oil/gas and tourism policies reflective of its agenda for change,” says KP Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Zahidullah Shinwari.
The new budget is bigger by Rs69bn than the current budget of Rs344bn, while the ADP is higher by Rs21bn over this fiscal’s Rs118bn.
Major revenue receipts include Rs227.12bn from federal tax assignments, Rs12bn in net hydro profit, Rs32.27bn as NHP arrears, Rs29.26bn from oil/gas royalty, Rs27.29bn as war on terror grant and Rs35.35bn as foreign assistance etc.
KP’s own revenue receipts are estimated at Rs29bn (up by 70 per cent against the current year) and include Rs19.45bn in tax receipts and non-tax revenue of Rs9.3bn. This includes Rs12bn as GST on services. The province also earns Rs2.85bn from its own power plants.
The budget suggests insufficient measures to check the current expenditure which has reached around 70 per cent of the total budgeted outlay.
The finance minister promised to provide 15,000 more jobs in the public sector, but admitted that joblessness cannot be eliminated by the government alone. Without support of the private sector, and for that matter, economic growth, the problem cannot be solved.
There seems to be a genuine attempt to raise provincial revenues. The PTI-led KP government has proposed a progressive tax on agriculture income, as well as land tax and property tax. The KP revenue authority will conduct a proper survey to determine the property tax.
It intends to raise fees on stamp duty, professionals and professional institutions, business establishments etc. Strangely, a PTI-led government is to tax educational institutions, including medical, engineering and law colleges.
The finance minister says the province is replete with abundant human and natural resources, but its population is living in poverty and backwardness owing to unfair distribution of resources, flawed planning, joblessness, illiteracy, corruption, nepotism, weak accountability system and lack of good governance. He vowed to root out these evils.
Prepared under the ‘Integrated Development Strategy’, the budget aims at good governance, responsive social services delivery, economic prosperity, peace, economic growth and job creation, improved transparency and accountability, enhanced fiscal space and gender equity.
The minister said the private sector would be involved in the construction and maintenance of public sector development projects in partnership with the public sector.
However, important sectors have been allocated higher but yet paltry sums: Rs3.4bn for power sector against Rs1.4bn in the current year; Rs4.7bn against Rs3.28bn for irrigation and Rs1.58bn against Rs1.53bn for agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy as 70 per cent people in KP are dependent on it for their survival.
A Board of Investment and Trade has been formed to ensure an investment- friendly environment and for economic revival. The KP oil and gas authority has been constituted for better use of existing resources and for exploring new ones. But the impact of the two bodies is still not yet visible.
The finance minister says KP’s industrial sector is hit by lawlessness, energy crisis, limited market, high cost of production, dilapidated infrastructure and inadequate technical knowhow.
For this, technical education is to be promoted and has been allocated Rs3.7bn.
A self-reliance scheme with a Rs2.7bn rolling fund has been proposed to give interest- free loans of Rs50,000-200,000 to jobless youth.
He said the mineral sector could be used for poverty alleviation but earmarked only Rs0.62cbn for the sector.
The government intends to set up a stock exchange in Peshawar and is seeking support of the federal government in this regard.
Several austerity measures have been proposed to bring down expenditure. No treatment/training abroad, no new cars and no new posts are to be allowed unless approved by the chief minister. The construction of houses for officials and ministers on 20 marlas and 110 per cent raise in salaries of ministers, advisors etc. This is, however, being resented.
A sum of Rs7.9bn has been allocated for a pro-poor initiative under which various welfare programmes such as health insurance and provincial youth technical education etc will be launched. A Rs6bn special relief package programme for giving subsidised edible items to the poor has been proposed in the budget.
Various hydro and alternate energy projects being launched include the construction of 350 small dams.
Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, June 23rd, 2014

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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE AS IT WAS SENT TO DAWN
KP budget 2014<br
By Tahir Ali
The Rs404.8bn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa balanced budget for 2014-15 with Rs139.8bn annual development programme addresses almost all the problems the province is faced with but gives only partial remedies to the economic, social and industrial woes of the impoverished province.
“The budget is a status-quo budget devoid of any change, vision and reform agenda and neglects the potential sectors. KP is beset with flight of capital, rising unemployment, terrorism and energy shortage. Joblessness is on the rise –there is 14.8 percent unemployment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against around 9.5 percent at national level. Province own revenues have remained stagnant. Real estate not taxed. Emergency steps were needed for economic growth, industrial revival, infrastructure development, energy supply, revival of sick industrial units, improvement in law and order, focus on technical and IT education but there is no proper roadmap for the areas. The government has failed to give a new mineral, industrial, hydel, oilg/gas and tourism policies reflective of its change agenda,” says the KP chamber of commerce and industry (Kpcci) president Zahidullah Shinwari.
Agonizing further is the fact that around 70 percent of the development funds lapsed in the current fiscal, he added.
The new budget is bigger by 69bn from the current year budget of Rs344bn while the ADP is higher by Rs21bn from this fiscal’s ADP of Rs118bn.
Major revenue receipts include Rs227.12bn federal tax assignments, Rs12bn net hydel profit plus Rs32.27bn as NHP arrears, Rs29.26bn oil/gas royalty, Rs27.29bn war on terror grant Rs35.35bn as foreign assistance besides some others sources.
KP’s own revenue receipts are estimated at Rs29bn (up by 70 per cent against the current year) include Rs19.45bn tax receipts and non tax receipts of Rs9.3bn. Rs12bn as GST on services which rose by 100 per cent is inclusive of tax receipts. The province also earns Rs2.85bn from own power plants.
The PORs target may be easily met in next fiscal and the years to come as new power plants get operational and sales tax collection targets is met for being easy,
Unlike other provinces, the budget has been divided into welfare, administrative and development sections but it is insignificant as welfare and administrative is the current budget having an outlay of Rs265bn while development budget is Rs139.8bn with Rs100bn local and Rs39bn foreign component.
The budget suggests insufficient measures to check current expenditure which has reached around 70 per cent of the total budget.
The expansion of the public sector must be a matter of concern for the subsequent government. The rising pay and pension bill of Rs176.5bn (66 percent of total current expenditure of Rs265bn) will squeeze space for development budget in future if not tackled. Industrialisation and Private sector
The finance minister promised to provide 15000 more jobs in public sector but he agreed that joblessness cannot be eliminated by government alone. Without support of private sector and for that matter economic growth, the problem couldn’t be achieved.
There seems to be a genuine attempt this time round to raise the provincial revenues locally and reduce dependence on federal and foreign funds. The PTI-led KP government has proposed a progressive tax on agriculture income, land tax and a progressive property tax.
KP has established KP revenue authority. This year a proper survey will be conducted to properly determine property tax.
It intends to raise the ratio of provincial taxes and fees on stamp duty, professionals and professional institutions, business establishments, agriculture income and salaries.
The rise in taxes/fees is expected to hit the consumers ultimately for it will be passed on to them. Strangely, a PTI-led government is to tax educational institutions including medical, engineering and law colleges.
The minister said KP is replete with abundant human and natural resources but its population is living under poverty and backwardness for unfair distribution of resources, flawed planning, joblessness, illiteracy, corruption, nepotism, weak accountability system and lack of good governance and vowed to root out these evils.
Prepared under the “Integrated Development Strategy”, the budget aims at good governance, responsive social services delivery, economic prosperity, peace, economic growth and job creation, improved transparency and accountability, enhanced fiscal space, gender equity and donor harmonization.
The minister said public private partnership act has been approved. The private sector would be involved in the construction and maintenance of public sector development projects.
Education has proved to be its biggest priority. However, important economic sectors have been allocated paltry sums: Rs3.4bn for power sector against Rs1.4bn in current year, Rs4.7bn against Rs3.28bn for irrigation and agriculture Rs1.58bn against Rs1.53bn in current year. The detailed expenditure report for the current year reveals that vital social and economic sectors of the ADP like social welfare, education, agriculture, energy/power and industries had been allocated Rs0.6bn, Rs24bn, Rs1.53bn, Rs2.2bn and Rs4.4bn respectively but actual utilisation remained at Rs.2bn, Rs3.72bn, Rs0.63bn, Rs0.65bn and Rs1bn could be utilised in this fiscal in that order.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy as 70 per cent people in KP are dependent over it for their survival but only Rs1.5bn has been allocated for the sector. The poverty and inability of farmers to use enough quality inputs to raise their produce but the government comes up with only loans on easy terms for them.
A Board of investment and trade has been formed to ensure investment friendly environment and for economic revival. KP oil and gas authority has been constituted for better use of existing resources and to explore new ones but its impact is still not discernable.
To bring down poverty and accountability, the government has promulgated the right to information law and established a commission for access to information, access to services’ commission and conflict of interest commission, ihtesab commission, a complaint cell in CM secretariat. And a public procurement regulatory authority established to make the procurement system of hiring of services, goods and construction transparent and corruption free and introduced the market rate system instead of the composite scheduled rates to ensure transparency in development schemes.
The minister said KP industrial sector is hit by lawlessness, energy crisis, limited market, high cost of production, dilapidated infrastructure and lack of technical knowhow.
For this technical education is to be promoted which has been allocated Rs3.7bn. Technical University will be established.
Under the self-reliance scheme with a Rs2.7bn rolling fund has been proposed to give interest free loans of Rs50,000-200,000 to jobless youth on their personal guarantee.
He said the mineral sector could be used for poverty alleviation but then only allocated Rs0.62cbn in ADP for the sector.
The government intends to set up stock exchange in Peshawar to support the progress of industry and trade sectors and wishes the federal government to take further measures in this regard.
The government proposed ‘several austerity measures’ to bring down expenditure. No foreign treatment/training, no new cars and no posts to be allowed unless approved by CM. But he didn’t specify what happened to similar measures in the current budget. The minister said the government has formed committees for monetization and economy which are working with far reaching consequences, though he failed to identify any.
The construction of houses for officials and ministers on 20 marlas and 110 per cent raise in salaries of minister, advisors etc however is being resented.
Rs7.9bn has been allocated for a pro-poor initiative under which various welfare programs, such as health insurance, long-term loan for development of industries, and provincial youth technical education scheme etc would be launched. Rs6bn more allocated for a special relief package program for giving subsidized edible items to the poor.
Various hydel and alternate energy projects being launched. Rs7bn have been allocated to construct 350 small dams. 400 megawatts of electricity will be produced through gas whose cheap energy will be given to industries.

KP Development budget 2014-15

No change in sight

Will the KP government be able to meet ambitious development targets set in the budget?

 
No change in sight
 
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government presented its budget for 2014-15 with an outlay of Rs404.8 billion last week. The Rs139.8 billion annual development programme is 20 per cent higher than the current year. It also includes Rs39 billion foreign component of which 79 per cent are grants.

KP Finance Minister Sirajul Haq says the province has abundant human and natural resources but its population is living under poverty and backwardness due unfair distribution of resources and lack of good governance.

Major revenue receipts include Rs227.12 billion federal tax assignments, Rs12 billion net hydel profit plus Rs32.27 billion as NHP arrears, Rs29.26 billion oil/gas royalty, Rs27.29 billion war on terror grant, Rs35.35 billion as foreign assistance besides some others sources.

KP’s own revenue receipts estimated at Rs29 billion (up by 70 per cent against the current year) include Rs19.45 billion tax receipts and non-tax receipts of Rs9.3 billion. Rs12 billion as GST on services which rose by 100 per cent is inclusive of tax receipts. The province also earns Rs2.85 billion from own power plants. Current expenditure (welfare and administrative) will be Rs265 billion.

The government’s development priorities are right, people say, but they doubt it will be able to meet its defined goals. Our successive governments have failed to create jobs thus leaving Pakhtuns searching for even menial jobs in other provinces or abroad, they argue. Most of the development funds for the outgoing year largely remain unutilised, claims an industrialist.

Various hydel and alternate energy projects are being launched — Rs7 billion have been allocated to construct 350 small dams, while 400 megawatts of electricity will be produced through gas whose cheap energy will be given to industries.

The public-private partnership act has been approved. The private sector would be involved in the construction and maintenance of public sector development projects. New industrial zones will be established but there is no plan for the revival of the sick industrial clusters like Gadoon Industrial estate.

Various hydel and alternate energy projects are being launched — Rs7 billion have been allocated to construct 350 small dams, while 400 megawatts of electricity will be produced through gas whose cheap energy will be given to industries.

Zahidullah Shinwari, the president of the KP Chamber of Commerce and Industry, terms the budget a status-quo budget devoid of any vision and reform agenda. “KP is beset with flight of capital, rising unemployment, terrorism and energy shortage. Joblessness is on the rise — there is 14.8 per cent unemployment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against around 9.5 per cent at national level.”

“Emergency steps were needed for economic growth, industrial revival, infrastructure development, energy supply, revival of sick industrial units and improvement in law and order, but there is no proper roadmap. The government has failed to give new mineral, industrial, hydel, oil/gas and tourism policies reflective of its change agenda,” he said.

There is contradiction in the figures. The finance minister said the current ADP has 611 on going and 378 new projects of which 209 will be completed this fiscal. The remaining and ongoing project are therefore 780. But he said the next budget will have 1251 projects including 611 ongoing and 540 new projects.

In education sector, the government will upgrade schools, establish IT laboratories in high schools, provide furniture to 2300 schools, provide sports facilities in 2400 schools, provide scholarships to talented students and offer free education to special persons in all colleges of the province.

Agriculture is the mainstay of livelihood for over 70 per cent of KP people, acknowledges the minister, but for 46 projects, only Rs1.58 billion have been allocated. While the allocation has been marginally increased, it has in fact come down as percentage to the ADP — while the current year’s allocation was 1.8 per cent of local ADP, the new apportionment is 1.5 per cent.

In Rs39 billion foreign component of ADP, education again was the major beneficiary with Rs11.7 billion, followed by Rs7.6 billion for roads for five projects but agriculture gets only Rs0.8 billion, energy Rs2.6 billion and industries Rs1.6 billion.

The poverty and inability of farmers to use enough quality inputs to raise their produce is the biggest hitch, the minister says, but he comes up with only loans on easy terms for them.

The PTI fans and even some ministers are taking pride in ‘a record increase’ in education spending to Rs111 billion but critics say most of the allocation (over Rs80 billion) comprises current budget which is but natural for being the biggest employees-wise department of the province.

The detailed expenditure report for the current year also reveals that vital social and economic sectors of the ADP like social welfare, education, agriculture, energy/power and industries had been allocated Rs0.6 billion, Rs24 billion, Rs1.53 billion, Rs2.2 billion and Rs4.4 billion respectively, but actual utilisation remained at Rs.2 billion, Rs3.72 billion, Rs0.63 billion, Rs0.65 billion and Rs1 billion in this fiscal.

In a bid to increase KP’s own revenue receipts, the government intends to raise the ratio of provincial taxes and fees on stamp duty, professionals and professional institutions, business establishments, agriculture income and salaries. The rise in taxes/fees is expected to hit the consumers ultimately for it will be passed on to them. Strangely, a PTI-led government is to tax educational institutions including medical, engineering and law colleges.

As per the Finance Bill 2014-15, an annual tax of Rs330 will be levied on a person in any profession and trade who earns between Rs10,000-Rs20,000. While a person earning between Rs200,000-Rs500,000 will pay tax of Rs10,000.

The employees of grade 1-5 have been exempted from the tax and the minimum professional tax threshold has been increased from Rs6000/pm to Rs10000 a month which, the finance minister said, will provide relief to low income class. But does the assertion hold any ground on the face of the fact that minimum monthly pay has been already fixed at Rs12000/pm.

Twelve categories are suggested for urban immovable property (UIP) tax. For technical education, Rs3.7 billion have been allocated and a technical university will be established. Rs2.7 billion have been earmarked to give interest-free loans of Rs50,000-200,000 to jobless youth on their personal guarantee.

The government proposed ‘several austerity measures’ to bring down expenditure. No foreign treatment/training, no new cars and no posts to be allowed unless approved by the chief minister.

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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE AS IT WAS SENT TO THE NEWS

KP budget 2014-15

By Tahir Ali

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government presented its balanced budget for 2014-15 with an outlay of Rs404.8bn last week.

The Rs139.8bn annual development programme is 20 per cent higher than the current year. It also includes Rs39bn foreign component of which 79 % are grants.

The KP finance minister Sirajul Haq says KP has abundant human and natural resources but its population is living under poverty and backwardness for unfair distribution of resources, flawed planning, joblessness, illiteracy, corruption, nepotism, weak accountability system and lack of good governance. He pledged making KP free of social, political and economic exploitation.

Major revenue receipts include Rs227.12bn federal tax assignments, Rs12bn net hydel profit plus Rs32.27bn as NHP arrears, Rs29.26bn oil/gas royalty, Rs27.29bn war on terror grant Rs35.35bn as foreign assistance besides some others sources.

KP’s own revenue receipts estimated at Rs29bn (up by 70 per cent against the current year) include Rs19.45bn tax receipts and non tax receipts of Rs9.3bn. Rs12bn as GST on services which rose by 100 per cent is inclusive of tax receipts. The province also earns Rs2.85bn from own power plants.

Current expenditure (welfare and administrative) will be Rs265bn. It needs to be checked or it will in future restrict room for development portfolio.

The government’s development priorities are right, people say, but they doubt it will be able to meet its defined goals. Our successive governments have failed to create jobs thus leaving Pakhtuns searching for even menial jobs in other provinces or abroad, they argue.

Most of the development funds for the outgoing year largely remains unutilised, claims an industrialist.

The public private partnership act has been approved. The private sector would be involved in the construction and maintenance of public sector development projects.

New industrial zones to be established but there is no plan for the revival of the sick industrial clusters like Gadoon estate.

Various hydel and alternate energy projects being launched. Rs7bn have been allocated to construct 350 small dams. 400 megawatts of electricity will be produced through gas whose cheap energy will be given to industries.

To bring down poverty and accountability, the government has promulgated the right to information law and established a commission for access to information, access to services’ commission and conflict of interest commission, ihtesab commission, a complaint cell in CM secretariat. And a public procurement regulatory authority established to make the procurement system of hiring of services, goods and construction transparent and corruption free and introduced the market rate system instead of the composite scheduled rates to ensure transparency in development schemes. .

Zahidullah Shinwari, the president of the KP chamber of commerce and industry terms the budget a status-quo budget devoid of any vision and reform agenda.

“KP is beset with flight of capital, rising unemployment, terrorism and energy shortage. Joblessness is on the rise –there is 14.8 percent unemployment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against around 9.5 percent at national level. Emergency steps were needed for economic growth, industrial revival, infrastructure development, energy supply, revival of sick industrial units, improvement in law and order, focus on technical and IT education but there is no proper roadmap for the areas. The government has failed to give a new mineral, industrial, hydel, oilg/gas and tourism policies reflective of its change agenda,” he said.

There is contradiction in the figures. The finance minister said the current ADP has 611 on going and 378 new projects of which 209 will be completed this fiscal. The remaining and ongoing project are therefore 780. But he said the next budget will have 1251 projects including 611 ongoing and 540 new projects.

In education sector, the government will upgrade schools, establish IT laboratories in high schools, provide furniture to 2300 schools, provide sports facilities in 2400 schools, provide scholarships to talented students and offer free education to special persons in all colleges of the province.

In Rs100bn provincial ADP, Education got Rs15bn but important economic sectors have been allocated paltry sums: Rs3.4bn for power sector against Rs1.4bn in current year, Rs4.7bn against Rs3.28bn for irrigation and agriculture Rs1.58bn against Rs1.53bn in current year.

Agriculture is the mainstay of livelihood for over 70 per cent of KP people, acknowledges the minister, but for 46 projects, only Rs1.58bnn have been allocated. While the allocation has been marginally increased, it has in fact come down as percentage to the ADP – while the current year’s allocation was 1.8 per cent of local ADP, the new apportionment is 1.5 per cent.

In Rs39bnforeign component of ADP, education again was the major beneficiary Rs11.7bn, followed by Rs7.6bn for roads for five projects but agriculture gets only Rs0.8bn, energy Rs2.6bn and industries Rs1.6bn.

The poverty and inability of farmers to use enough quality inputs to raise their produce is the biggest hitch, the minister says, but he comes up with only loans on easy terms for them.

The PTI fans and even some ministers are taking pride in ‘a record increase’ in education spending to Rs111bn but critics say most of the allocation (over Rs80bn) comprises current budget which is but natural for being the biggest employees-wise department of the province.

The detailed expenditure report for the current year also reveals that vital social and economic sectors of the ADP like social welfare, education, agriculture, energy/power and industries had been allocated Rs0.6bn, Rs24bn, Rs1.53bn, Rs2.2bn and Rs4.4bn respectively but actual utilisation remained at Rs.2bn, Rs3.72bn, Rs0.63bn, Rs0.65bn and Rs1bn could be utilised in this fiscal.

In a bid to increase KP own revenue receipts, the government intends to raise the ratio of provincial taxes and fees on stamp duty, professionals and professional institutions, business establishments, agriculture income and salaries. The rise in taxes/fees is expected to hit the consumers ultimately for it will be passed on to them. Strangely, a PTI-led government is to tax educational institutions including medical, engineering and law colleges.

As per the Finance Bill 2014-15, an annual tax of Rs330 will be levied on a person in any profession and trade who earns between Rs10,000-Rs20,000. While a person earning between Rs200,000-Rs500,000 will pay tax of Rs10,000. There are such slabs.

The employees of grade 1-5 have been exempted from the tax and the minimum professional tax threshold has been increased from Rs6000/pm to Rs10000 a month which, the finance minister said, will provide relief to low income class but does the assertion hold any ground on the face of the fact that minimum monthly pay has been already fixed at Rs12000/pm.

Twelve categories are suggested for urban immovable property (UIP) tax. An owner of upto 5 marlas house (other than self-occupied) in category A, B and C will pay Rs1000, Rs 900 and Rs750 in UIP respectively. Owners of over 5 marlas will pay UIP tax of Rs1700, Rs1600 and Rs1500, owners of 10 marlas will pay Rs2200, Rs2100 and Rs2000, owners of 15 marlas house will deposit Rs3300, Rs3200, and Rs3000 while those with 18-20 marlas houses and flats will pay UIP tax of Rs10000, Rs9000 and Rs8000 in the three categories respectively. Similarly other eight categories have different tax slabs for the immovable properties.

For technical education Rs3.7bn have been allocated and a technical University will be established. Rs2.7bn have been earmarked to give interest free loans of Rs50,000-200,000 to jobless youth on their personal guarantee.

The mineral sector could be used for poverty alleviation but only Rs0.62cbn have been allotted to it in the ADP.

The government intends to set up stock exchange in Peshawar to support the progress of industry and trade sectors.

The government proposed ‘several austerity measures’ to bring down expenditure. No foreign treatment/training, no new cars and no posts to be allowed unless approved by CM. But he didn’t specify what happened to similar measures in the current budget. The minister said the government has formed committees for monetization and economy which are working with far reaching consequences, though he failed to identify any.

The construction of houses for officials and ministers on 20 marlas and 110 per cent raise in salaries of minister, advisors etc however is being resented.

Rs7.9bn has been allocated for a pro-poor initiative under which various welfare programs, such as health insurance, long-term loan for development of industries, and provincial youth technical education scheme etc would be launched. Rs6bn more allocated for a special relief package program for giving subsidized edible items to the poor.

The education budget was Rs13.87bn in current fiscal while this year it will be Rs14.31bn for the next year.

 

 

Schools under watch

 http://tns.thenews.com.pk/schools-watch-education-monitoring-units-kpk/#.U1wh4KzOXp8

Will the Independent Monitoring Unit help improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in KPK?

Schools under watch
Anything but a school.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has launched an Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) to improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in the province. The IMU has been established under a three-year project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Rs500 million have been allocated for the initiative this year and more funds will be set aside for it in the next budget(s). The project will be extended if found useful after a third-party verification. Rs100 million have also been earmarked for establishing a third-party monitoring mechanism.

Muhammad Atif Khan, Provincial Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department, says 475 IMU monitors — 303 men and 172 women — have been appointed on merit for boys and girls schools respectively. They receive a fixed pay of Rs30,000 a month. Male monitors have been given motorcycles with Rs10,000 fuel allowance.

Each KP district has been divided in groups, each consisting of up to 60 schools and every monitor is responsible for visiting all the schools in his group. He/she has to visit a school at least once a month.

On the terms of references (ToRs) and standard operating procedure (SoP) of monitors, the minister says they are basically real-time data collectors and transmitters. “They have been trained for the purpose. They will collect, physically verify and send immediately data on the attendance of teachers, enrolment/dropout rate of students, needs and deficiencies of teachers and other school paraphernalia etc.”

The monitors will also collect data on the inspection of officers to schools, the distribution of free textbooks, stipends to the female students and the parents-teachers’ council (PTC) and other school funds. He says monitors have been given smart-phones with a proper format for feeding data and a general packet radio system (GPRS) to collect and transmit real-time data of/from the concerned schools to the IMU head office in Peshawar.

Asked what measures have been taken to guard against the misuse of powers by monitors, Khan says, “The monitors have been trained to be polite to principals/teachers, not to indulge in reasoning and avoid meddling in the teaching learning process. Their performance will also be monitored and action will be taken if any genuine complaints come to surface against them. The IMU is independent of the department’s control. They have to submit data immediately from the school they visit. This has been done to save the system from data/record-tampering.”

Lack of basic facilities at schools is a big problem. Over 20 per cent of the functional public schools in KP still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

The KP Chief Minister, Pervez Khattak, recently issued directives of handing over the monitoring of all hospitals and basic health units to the IMU. But the system has been put in place in the education department only. The IMU has been empowered to monitor only schools in the public sector while education offices and private schools are still out of its ambit.

It is hoped the IMU will help pinpoint “ghost schools and proxy teachers” (the IMU, as reported, has detected 12 proxy teachers, four women among them, in government schools in Buner district recently), improve teachers’ attendance and make it easy/possible to take action against the corrupt and negligent elements in the department.

Most of the principals and head-masters of the E&SE Department support the initiative. They say teachers’ attendance and punctuality have improved significantly ever-since the launch of the IMU.

Mumtazuddin, a principal of a government higher secondary school, is all praise for the IMU. He says the IMU is a sort of an external counter-check upon the internal supervision system of the department. External or a third-party check, he says, is done everywhere in the world. “Officers fail to visit schools even in years. With teachers and internal monitors (administrative officers) mostly shirking responsibilities, the IMU is the need of the hour,” he says.

“Intra-district shuffling of monitors is being carried out every month to prevent the problems/dangers of familiarity/rapprochement between teachers and monitors. These dangers could be further minimised by inter-district shifting of monitors,” according to another principal.

Tahir Ali2

Some teachers support the move: “One of the biggest problems is the flawed monitoring system. Exceptions apart, our departmental monitoring system is too politicised, powerless and under-funded. One hopes the IMU will be kept safe from political interference, corruption, and data-delaying/tampering for whatever reasons. Much will depend also on whether its recommendations will be executed,” a teacher says.

But some term it ‘an unwarranted and inapt’ move that would ultimately bring little/no change. They say schools and teachers are monitored by head masters, and inspected by cluster heads, district education officers, directors, local bodies members, national and provincial assemblies’ members and chairman and members of the PTCs.

“There was no need to establish the IMU. Rather, the government should have strengthened/empowered the internal monitoring system. Schools should be left to the district education officers. Principals and officers should be empowered and political intervention in appointments and postings should be eliminated. Good administrators could do wonders,” says a teacher.

“Principals and administrators would also definitely give good results if facilities like smart-phones with GPRS connection and powers are provided to them and they are also made to report their inspection report immediately. Biometric attendance system at schools can also improve teachers’ punctuality. But teachers’ performance also needs to be improved. Principals should be explicitly authorised to hire new teachers from PTC or other school funds,” he argues.

Another teacher complains that earlier principals/headmasters and the district officers used to report on deficiencies and requirements of teachers, chairs, desks, books and other basic facilities regularly but these were scarcely fulfilled. Now monitors do the same, but will the government act upon their reports/recommendations? Khan responds the government will ensure speedy action on their reports and recommendations concerning administrative and financial matters and will allocate resources.

Khan says: “Rather it is a quest for excellence. Why would one have gone for this if the earlier internal monitoring system had been successful during the last 65 years? Our history proves and no one can contest that it has failed to deliver and that a change was needed.”

Another teacher, wishing anonymity, says: “The monitors visit a school once or twice a month. What if a teacher, who is otherwise punctual and dutiful, is on-leave or late on the monitor’s arrival date(s). Won’t that cause a negative and wrong perception about him in the IMU system?” He adds: “Educational monitoring is too technical a job to be left to inexperienced monitors. This is bound to fail.”

The KP E&SE Department possesses over 168000 employees with 133750 sanctioned and 119274 functional teachers who teach 3.9 million students in 28472 total and 27975 functional government primary, middle, high, and higher secondary schools.

It means a monitor will check around 250-280 teachers and 58-60 schools. The monitor-employee ratio will be 1:350 if education offices also come under their oversight.

Besides weak monitoring mechanism, crowded classrooms, indifference of teachers and administrators and political interference, lack of basic facilities at schools is a big problem. Over 20 per cent of the functional public schools in KP still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

Tahir Ali

tahir ali
The author is an academic and a freelance columnist interested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s politics, peace, education and economy. He may be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com.
…………………
Original text of the article.
Impartial School Monitors
Or Independent Monitoring Unit
By Tahir Ali
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has launched the Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) to improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in the province.
The IMU has been established under a three years project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Rs500mn have been allocated for the initiative this year and more funds will be set aside for it in the next budget (s). The project will be extended if found useful after third party verification. Rs100mn have also been earmarked for establishing a third party monitoring mechanism.
Muhammad Atif Khan, provincial minister for Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) department, says 475 IMU monitors -303 male and 172 female –have been appointed on merit for boys and girls schools respectively. They receive a fixed pay of Rs30000/pm. Male monitors have been given motorcycles with Rs10000 fuel allowance while female the latter.
Each KP district has been divided in groups –each consisting of up to 60 schools and every monitor is responsible for visiting all the schools in his group. He/she has to visit a school at least once a month.
About a question on the terms of references (ToRs) and standard operating procedure (SoP) of monitors and whether they could monitor the teaching-learning process, he said they are basically real-time data collectors and transmitters. “They have been trained for the purpose. They will collect, physically verify and send immediately data on the attendance of teachers, enrolment/dropout rate of students, needs and deficiencies of teachers and other school paraphernalia etc,” he said.
Monitors will also collect data on the inspection of officers to schools, the distribution of free textbooks, stipends to the female students and on the parents-teachers’ council (PTC) and other school funds.
For this purpose, he said, monitors have been given smart-phones with a proper format for feeding data and a general packet radio system (GPRS) to collect and transmit real-time data of/from the concerned schools to the IMU head-office in Peshawar.
Asked what measures have been taken to guard against the misuse of powers by monitors, Khan said. “Monitors have been trained to be polite to principals/teachers, not to indulge in reasoning or misbehaviour with them and avoid meddling in the teaching learning process. Their performance will also be monitored and action will be taken if any genuine complaints come to surface against them. The IMU is independent of department’s control. They have to submit data immediately from the school they visit. This has been done to save the system from data/record-tampering.”
KP chief minister Pervez Khattak recently issued directives of handing over the monitoring of all hospitals and basic health units to IMU. But the system has been put in place in the education department only partially: It has been empowered to monitor only schools in the public sector while education offices and private schools are still out of its ambit.
It is hoped IMU will help pinpoint “ghost schools and proxy teachers” (The IMU, as reported, has detected 12 proxy teachers, four women among them, in government schools in Buner district recently), improve teachers’ attendance and make it easy/possible to take action against the corrupt and negligent elements in the department.
Most of the principals and head-masters of the E&SE department support the initiative. They say teachers’ attendance and punctuality have improved significantly ever-since the launch of IMU.
Mumtazuddin, a principal of a government higher secondary school, was all praise for the IMU. He said IMU was a sort of an external counter-check upon the internal supervision system of the department. External or third-party check, he said, is done everywhere and is vital for bringing improvement.
“Officers fail to visit schools even in years. With teachers and internal monitors (administrative officers) mostly shirking responsibilities, IMU –an external monitoring system –was the need of the hour,” he said.
“Intra-district shuffling of monitors is being carried out every month to protect against the problems/dangers of familiarity/rapprochement between teachers and monitors. These dangers could be further minimized by inter-district shifting of monitors,” according to another principal.
Some teachers support the move: “One of the biggest problems is the flawed monitoring system. Exceptions apart, our departmental monitoring system is too politicized, powerless, underfunded, busy in file-work or lacklustre to properly monitor the schools under their jurisdiction. One hopes the IMU will be kept safe from political interference, corruption, and data-delaying/tampering for whatever reasons. Much will depend also on whether its recommendations will be impartially executed,” a teacher said.
But some oppose it terming it as ‘an unwarranted and inapt’ move that would ultimately bring little/no change. They say schools and teachers are monitored by head masters, and inspected by cluster heads, district education officers, directors, local bodies members, national and provincial assemblies’ members and chairman and members of the PTCs.
“There was no need to establish the IMU. Rather, the government should have strengthened/empowered the internal monitoring system. Schools should be left to the district education officers. Principals and officers should be empowered and political intervention in appointments and postings should be eliminated. Good administrators, like Mushtaq Ahmad, the ex-DEO Mardan, who comprehensively inspected all the schools of the district within a short span of three months, could do wonders,” said a teacher.
“Principals and administrators would also definitely give good results if facilities like smart-phones with GPRS connection and powers are provided to them and they are also made to report their inspection report immediately. Biometric attendance system at schools can also improve teachers’ punctuality. But teachers’ competencies also need to be improved. Principals should be explicitly authorized to hire new teachers from PTC or other school funds,” he argued.
Another teacher said that earlier principals/headmasters and the district officers kept reporting the deficiencies and requirements on teachers, chairs, desks, books and other basic facilities regularly but these are scarcely fulfilled. Now monitors do the same but will the government act upon their reports/recommendations and fulfil the deficiencies? Khan responded the government will ensure speedy action on their reports and recommendations concerning administrative and financial matters and will allocate resources.
When asked whether the step/body was tantamount to a distrust on the existing monitoring mechanism and shouldn’t the age-old system have been reformed/strengthened rather than establishing a new system, Khan said: “Rather it is a quest for excellence. And why would one have gone for this if the earlier internal monitoring system had been successful during the last 65 years? Our history proves and no one can contest that it has failed to deliver and that a change was needed.”
Another teacher, wishing anonymity, said: “Monitors visit a school once or twice a month. Now what if a teacher who is otherwise punctual and dutiful is on-leave or late on the monitor’s arrival date(s). Won’t that cause a negative and wrong perception about him in the IMU system?”
“PTI has rewarded the youth with jobs as monitors. But educational monitoring is too difficult and technical a job to be left to inexperienced fellows. This is bound to fail. It will, however, create hatred for PTI amongst teachers as disputes surface later.”
The KP E&SE department possesses over 168000 employees with 133750 sanctioned and 119274 functional teachers who teach 3.9mn students in 28472 total but 27975 functional Government Primary, middle, high, and higher secondary schools.
It means a monitor will check around 250-280 teachers and 58-60 schools. The monitor-employee ratio will be 1:350 once education offices also come under their oversight, something impossible.
Experts say weak monitoring mechanism, teachers’ absenteeism, crowded classrooms, indifference of teachers and administrators, political interference and schools sans facilities, etc are some of the problems facing education in the province.
Distressingly, 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities. As for other facilities like library, computer and science laboratory, the report says, only 1205, 254 and 1152 off the 3092 male and 451, 154 and 561of the 1810 girls middle to higher schools have these facilities respectively. The rest have no such facilities and so are the GPSs.

Comment on Newyork Times` article

Comment on the Newyork Times` article that accuses the ISI of knowing about the presence of Bin Laden and supporting him.
Today I went through the entire article. But I found no worthwhile and conclusive evidence though much of hearsay known to all and at times conflicting details as will be shown in the comment. The article contains only the often repeated allegations that Pak military abets militants and Alqaeda. The only evidence the writer gives to prove her point that Pakistan military knew of Bin Laden presence is that the ISI had formed a special cell on Bin Laden. Well, it is but natural that intelligence agencies round the world form cells on personalities, dangers and groups like Bin Laden and Alqaeda but it doesn`t mean they support and want
them. Instead they are fought against by making special plans, bodies and arrangements. Would have loved to read the book the article is based on but…… Also, the writer dubs Qari
Saifullah Akhtar as the most valuable asset for ISI but then goes on to say later in the article
that Qari Saif in his 2009 meeting with Osama Bin Laden asked him to provide him with support for his plans to attack the GHQ and ISI headquarters. Strange isn’t it? How can an “asset” be so hostile to his “mentors”?

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