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.

 

 

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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.

Power sector privatisation

Power sector privatisation

By Tahir Ali

March 2, 2014

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/power-struggle-privatisation/

While the Nawaz Sharif-led federal government intends to gradually privatise all of the power distribution companies (Discos) and generation companies (Gencos), their employees are in no mood to let that happen easily.

The Council of Common Interests (CCI), headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, decided in principle to privatize all the state-owned Discos, Gencos and other Power Sector Entities in line with the 2011 Policy earlier this month.

“In the past, unnecessary recruitments and corruption has resulted in mismanagement in these organizations and privatization, therefore, is the only solution in the national interest,” said the Prime Minister.

The Privatisation Commission, sources said, has approved the restructuring and privatization Faisalabad Electric Power Company (Fesco), Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco), Hyderabad Electric Supply Company, Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) and others. Privatisation of some Thermal Power generation Stations has also been approved.

Earlier the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation, besides others, had decided that Islamabad Electricity Supply Company and Gujrawanala Electricity Supply Company would be offered for strategic partnerships. It directed the Privatisation Commission to ensure that the interests of employees are protected at all costs.

Minister for water and power Khwaja Muhammad Asif told the National Assembly recently that in order to improve the efficiency of the public sector power entities, some Discos and Gencos are being considered for privatisation. Improvement in the efficiency through competition, accountability, managerial autonomy and profit incentives; and the generation of required resources are the objectives of the government for the privatization of power sector.

“As a matter of fact, all Discos including Pesco are eventually to be privatized. Pesco`s turn may come later but it will,” said a knowledgeable senior source who declined to be named.

To a question on why privatization instead of improving their efficiency, the official said it`s a decision of a government you know with a knack for privatization of PSEs.

Pesco recently planned to privatise three feeders each in Bannu and Dera Ismael Khan but the proposal met stiff resistance from Wapda employees. They instead asked to handover the feeders to them with such incentives as were promised to the private contractors.

Employees fear privatisation would entail joblessness, job insecurity, and costlier energy for the masses and will tantamount to economic killing of lacs of families.

Gohar Taj, the chairman of the all Pakistan Wapda hydro electric central workers union (HECWU) which is the elected collective bodies’ agent (CBA) of Wapda, said the government had on the pressure of IMF decided to privatise Pesco, Lesco and Fesco. It has obtained approval from the CCI through majority.

“Vital national assets were being gifted to political cronies. Wapda workers won’t accept any privatisation or golden handshake offers. Due to our strong opposition, Pesco feeders couldn’t be privatised in Bannu. We will stage demonstrations on March 5 countrywide and on 11 in Islamabad. We will take along sympathetic parties and take the nation into confidence on the hazards of privatisation,” he said.

“The government should revive the loss-making entities with the staff and officers of Discos. CBA will support it. It can take help from the law enforcement agencies to curb stealing, recover dues from defaulters and to arrest corruption within the companies. Pesco employees, I am told, have increased recovery ratio by 10 per cent line losses have been curtailed by one per cent in the last three months. But if goes for privatisation, then it should be known to all that we won’t allow this bandarbant (selective distribution).”

“PPP is labour friendly. It listens to workers grievances and protects their interests but Nawas Sharif government is historically inimical to workers,” he added.

According to him, Wapda was the backbone of national economy till 1994 but now a scourge. “Discos have been destroyed with political intervention by taking political persons and vested interests as members of its BoDs even though they may have no share and therefore stakes to improve their performance. Funds given to improve age-old infrastructure are utilised for extending low-tension lines to benefit politicians which further increases pressure on the national grid and line-losses.”

Tela Muhammad, provincial chairman of the steering committee of the Wapda Pegham union KP, said Nawas Sharif government as usual was bent upon privatising vital national assets.

“We won’t accept offers like the PTCL employees who opted for retaining jobs but are denied due rights since then. We would oppose the move tooth and nail. Privatisation will do no good to consumers as income-hungry private owners of Discos would sell electricity at exorbitant prices. It will only provide the administrative officers of Discos to prepare list of unwilling employees by dubbing them incompetent or corrupt. Privatisation endeavours with regard to feeders have failed earlier. IPPs and RPPs scandals are fresh in minds. They sold power at enormously high rates to regulator which in turn raised power tariff for the people.”

“National institutions need to be improved with the help of all concerned and not to be privatised. If there are corrupt officials, the government has all the resources to arrest, try and punish them. Every employee gives income statement to tax authorities which can be scrutinised and compared with their living style,” he added.

Donor agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have identified poor governance; political and bureaucratic interference, institutional weakness, and lack of professional management as key shortcomings of Pakistan’s PSEs urging their restructuring and privatization.

But neither privatisation nor nationalisation is solution in itself. Without some institutional and administrative reforms and improvement, any of these will invariably fail.

For many years, the power sector has been virtually in private hands. For example Pepco, headed by an independent MD, manages all the affairs of corporatized nine Discos, four Gencos and a National Transmission Dispatch Company. These companies work under independent Board of Directors (Chairman and some directors are from private Sector). These are administratively autonomous and all entities have the physical possessions of all their operational assets. But the sector’s woes have risen in the meantime.

Similarly feeders in Pesco and other Discos have been privatised in the past but contractors soon fled from the contract. People ask if privatisation of KESC has reaped any dividends. Have the consumers of Karachi benefitted? Has the government got relieved of its subsidies? The government has allocated Rs55bn out of its total power sector subsidy of Rs220bn this financial year to pick KESC tariff differential this year even though it’s long been privatised.

Without structural reforms, stringent laws to punish and deter power stealers, community participation, ending of political intervention, eradicating mismanagement and a sound policy of reward and punishment for both consumers and workers of Discos, even privatisation will be meaningless.

“The government should provide security to raiding teams. Public mind-set should be educated against power theft through media, ulema and teachers. Community intervention can be ensured by assigning areas of responsibility to local bodies’ members at ward or transformer level. Field/line staff deficiency must be removed. Workers should be given commission on extra collection beyond benchmark target at different rates,” said the senior source.

Accountability, power generation especially from hydel and gas and renewal of power infrastructure are also vital for bringing demand and supply gap and line-losses down.

Pesco’s worth and standing

Pesco, according to an estimate, is worth over Rs300bn with all its assets and liabilities.

“Pesco is incurring a loss of Rs1bn a month. Out of the total Rs6.2bn worth units billed, around Rs5bn are recovered. Its total transmission and distribution losses are over Rs75bn at present. But all this is not entirely caused by incompetence and corruption of employees. They have security problems and are attacked by powerful stealing mafia. The police is too over-stretched for the precarious security situation to escort them. Laws against power theft are toothless. A power thief is set free by fining him Rs500-1000. Now this emboldens others to follow suit,” the source said.

“Pesco’s T&D losses are officially displayed at 30-32 per cent but it in reality are 70-80 per cent. Pesco is running in loss because off its 2.7mn consumers, 87.7 per cent are domestic, 10.2 per cent are commercial, only 0.9 per cent are industrial while one per cent fall in other categories. Against this, Fesco, Lesco etc are revenue generators with minimal T&D losses as over 30-35 per cent consumers there are industrial ones. Surprisingly, the government has decided to privatize these income generating Discos,” he added.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has in 2003, 2005, 2006 and several other occasions passed resolutions against privatisation of Pesco. Abdul Akbar Khan had told the assembly the province had already paid the total transmission and distribution cost of Pesco system,”therefore the NWFP has every right to claim the ownership of Pesco, including its assets, under Article157(2) of the Constitution.

 

gur-making up in KP

Bitter realities of a sweet crop

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/bitter-realities-of-a-sweet-crop/#.Uq7hS6xsS1s

Sugarcane growers prefer making gur rather than selling the crop to mills owners

Bitter realities of a sweet crop

It is gur-making season in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera. The estimated sugarcane production in KP is around 1.3 million tonnes. Almost half of it is used for gur making. Gur produced in Charsadda and Mardan is very popular countrywide. Gur is the main sweetener for around 60 per cent people in KP and Federally and Provincially-administered tribal areas (Fata and Pata). It is exported to Afghanistan, Middle Eastern and Central Asian states where it is believed to be used as a sweetener and in winemaking.

Mardan and Peshawar are the hubs of gur trade. Around ten to twelve thousands of purs are traded in the Pipal Mandi gur market when the trade is in full swing. Gur commission agents are also very active these days.

Thousands of tonnes of gur is traded in the province or taken out of the country daily. Majority of the sugarcane growers prefer using their cane-produce for gur-making rather than taking it to mills for its comparative advantages. It fetches them good prices. They have to feed their animals with cane-grass which necessitates intermittent cutting of crop as allowed by gur-making and not simultaneous harvesting of the entire crop as demanded by the mills option. And they usually use gur in their homes. Gur is used in juices, sweets and eaten with bread as curry with bread by the poor.

In Punjab, a kind of gur, named Duplicate, is prepared by mixing gur, glucose and other ingredients. It is good-looking as well as cheaper and tasteful, according to some farmers.

While sugar-mills began crushing season in early November, gur-making is usually started in late September or early October. It lasts till April next year.

Gur prepared in the initial stage is of inferior quality but can fetch more. Late production increases yield and standard. The gur made in January, February and March is much better in quality and is liked the most. Similarly, gur without alteration is the best for human consumption while that mixed with artificial colour tastes bad, though people residing in remote areas prefer it for its bright colour. Again, the gur made from the roots of the last year’s crop is good in quality while that from fresh canes is not that good.

According to Murad Ali Khan, a farmers’ leader from Charsadda, gur is more competitive for the farmers at the current rate.

“A pur of gur (having 75-80 kilograms) fetches a price up to Rs5000 depending upon its colour, taste and quality in the local market. Sugarcane yield per acre is around 400 maunds which can produce 20 purs (a pur consumes 20-25 maunds of cane). These can earn a farmer Rs100,000 or more. It exceeds the price offered by sugar-mills these days,” he says.

According to another farmer, quality sugarcane can give as much as 40 purs per acre. But, he says, farmers in KP will only benefit from the crop when its per acre yield of 350-400 maunds is increased to that of 650-700 maunds in Punjab. At present, gur-making through rented gurganee (machines) is less beneficial for farmers while those who own ganees are the real beneficiaries,” he opines.

Muhammad Zahir Khan, another growers’ representative, says hitches in supply of gur to Fata, Pata and the ban on export of gur to Afghanistan and the central Asian states, however, have lowered gur prices of late to the detriment of gur farmers. “Gur can be a healthy addition to the countries’ depleting export earnings if its export is allowed after value addition.”

Masud Khan, the manager of the Premier Sugar Mills Mardan, says though the minimum sugarcane support price is Rs170 per 40 kilogrammes in other provinces, the local sugar mills offer Rs180. “We have to compete with gurganees. While our per kg cost of production has increased for higher prices and wages offered to farmers and employees, escalating fuel prices and various taxes, gurganees have no such taxes and responsibilities. How can we compete with them? Sugar industry will be on verge of closure if not supported,” he says. The industry has been campaigning for ban on gur export, taxes on gur industry and eventual moratorium on gur production.

Rizwanullah Khan, the president of the Kissan Board KP, however, says prices of all the things are on the rise while last year’s cane price has remained unchanged. “In 2010, mills had offered Rs240 per 40kg. Cane price be increased as per cost of production. We have planned agitation to press for good cane-prices.”

Gur was once the food of the poor. Though it has become costlier than sugar for few years now, the poor still prefer it for its taste and health benefits.

A farmer said gur agents and big farmers have installed generator-run modern gur-ganees with several furnaces which help prepare plenty of purs daily.

In 1996, average retail gur price was 14 rupees a kilo. Currently, it is sold at Rs66-75/kg. The sugarcane growers, unfortunately, haven’t been able to get advantage of this hike. Growers say the gur commission agents have devoured most of the surplus value in the shape of huge commission or deduction of 5-8kg gur/a pur.

Mardan and Peshawar are the hubs of gur trade. Around ten to twelve thousands of purs are traded in the Pipal Mandi gur market when the trade is in full swing. Gur commission agents work pretty much like the property dealers or motor vehicle bargainers who are only concerned with their commission.

“The gur agents enter advance agreements with farmers by making payments for standing crops. They provide farmers seasonal/crop-based loans which they use for buying inputs and fulfilling their domestic needs,” a farmer says.

An official of the Sugarcane Crops Research Institute said though KP’s cane has better quality and sucrose content, its average yield is between 16-24 metric tonnes, much less than that of Sindh and Punjab. He cited insufficient use of fertiliser and pesticides, non-attractive price given by mills, intercropping, use of less than recommended seed (4 ton/acre) and shortage of irrigation water as reasons for lesser acreage and production.

KP school’s report

School report
KP’s Annual Statistical Report paints a bleak picture of schools in the province
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2013-weekly/nos-27-10-2013//pol1.htm#8

Experts agree that education requires a congenial atmosphere and the provision of certain facilities like water, electricity, washrooms, playgrounds and computer-labs within the school premises. But hundreds of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities, an official document reveals.

It is mind-boggling to read that 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.

According to the latest Annual Statistical Report released by the KP Elementary and Secondary Education (ES&E) Department, there are 28472 government schools in KP of which 27975 are functional while 397 are non-functional/temporarily closed and 100 are newly-constructed. Majority or 23073 (83 per cent) of the schools are government primary schools (GPSs) while government middle schools (GMSs), high schools (GHSs) and higher secondary schools (GHSSs) make up 9, 7 and 1 per cent of all the schools respectively.

Most of the non-functional/temporary closed schools are girls’ schools with 288 of them primary and 7 secondary schools.

Of the total 44873 and 25364 rooms in male and female GPSs, 4563 and 2039 rooms need major repairs, 11929 and 5504 minor repairs while another 3600 and 1416 room need rehabilitation respectively.

Similarly, amongst the 12644 rooms in GMSs, 784 need major repairs, 3048 minor repairs and 634 rooms are in need of rehabilitation. Again, off the total 15377 rooms in GHSs, 2220, 5361 and 2343 rooms are in need of major and minor repairs and rehabilitation respectively. And off the 8167 rooms in GHSSs in the province, 648 rooms need major repairs, 1434 minor repairs and 647 rooms need total rehabilitation.

According to the report, 3.93 million students study in 27975 functional government schools with 2.84 million in GPSs, 0.76 million in GMSs, 0.29 million in GHSs and 0.041 million in GHSSs across the province. Over 1.51 million students also read in 6743 non-government schools here. Most of the 119274 teachers in government schools are male (78172), but female teachers in private schools account for 44466 off 85325 teachers.

The teacher-student ratio in GPSs is 1:39 and secondary schools level is 1:23 but it is much greater in some schools. The report shows that 1175 male and 1450 female GPSs have only one teacher to teach all the classes and the students-teachers ratio for these schools is 1:58 and 1:61 respectively. 344 male and 103 female primary schools have no rooms to shelter students. 10318 off the total primary schools have two rooms and two teachers, obviously short of what is required.

Though females account for over 50 per cent of population here, girls schools make up 36 per cent of all the schools, but their share further comes down to 33 per cent at high and higher secondary levels.

According to a report in The News in 2009, out of total of 4338 and 2609 rooms in all schools in Mardan, as many as 713 rooms in boys’ schools and 399 in the female ones needed major repairs. The recent report says 480 rooms in male schools and 211 rooms in women schools still await major repair.

Overall Net Enrolment Ratio at primary level is 48 per cent (52 and 44 per cent for male and female schools) but it is at 28 per cent (33 and 21 per cent for boys and girls) in all middle to higher schools of the province.

While enrolment overall increased by around 23.9 per cent in the last 10 years (2003 to 2012), increase in teachers and functional schools was recorded at 15.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. Girls’ enrolment grew by 3 times against boys’.

During 2011 and 2012, the dropout rate for the stages from 5th to 9th grade has been recorded at 16, 9, 7, 14 and 16 per cent for boys. For the girls, it has been recorded at 24, 9, 8, 21 and 8 per cent in that order.

But dropout rate could be higher if we analyse the data intently. The date reveals 0.519 million students were admitted in the prep class in GPSs across the province in 2003-04. By 2008-09, when the students reached the 5th grade, their number stood at 0.29 million which means around 50 per cent of them dropped out. By 2012, only 0.16 million students of these are recorded in the 9th grade.

If not for the huge dropout and the spread of private education networks, the existing number of schools would hardly have accommodated all the students of the preceding stages. Are these two phenomena blessings in disguise for the planners?

Though dropout in GHSSs has not been ascertained in the report, it must have considerably decreased as both total male and female enrolment has been recorded at 41000 in last year for both first and second year.

The report further says that 1101of the total 21972 parents-teachers councils (PTCs) in primary schools are non-functional. Similarly, out of 4710 PTCs in middle and secondary schools, 192 are non-functional. The PTCs, it should be reminded, are meant for parents-teachers coordination.

The report shows that out of the sanctioned 133750 (86963 male and 46787 female) teachers, 119274 (78172 male and 41102 female) teachers work these days. It means a deficit of over 14000 teachers. Another 6992 teachers (3185 Primary and 3807 Secondary Schools teachers) will retire during the next 5 years. This, if not tackled soon, may expand teachers-students ratio and the latter’s woes, especially at higher secondary levels. 572 posts of male and 342 posts of female subject specialists, who teach students in grade 11 and 12 in the GHSSs, are still lying vacant, according to the report.

There is no analysis as to how many of the GHSSs in the province afford both medical and engineering classes, but knowledgeable sources say most of them don’t offer courses in science and most of the disciplines in arts for shortage of the subject specialists and resources.

The sector has had received considerable amount in the provincial budget and has been allocated Rs24 billion off the total ADP of Rs118 billion this year. Experts say government schools have spacious buildings and plenty of teachers but loose administration, poor monitoring mechanism, outdated curriculum, flawed examination system, overcrowded classrooms, lack of modern facilities, teachers absenteeism, outdated teaching techniques, and political interference etc are the factors responsible for the poor performance of the public sector schools vis-à-vis their private counterparts.

…………..

Original text of the article

Schools in KP left in lurch

By Tahir Ali

Experts agree that education requires a congenial atmosphere and the provision of certain facilities like water, electricity, washrooms, playgrounds and computer-labs within the school premises. But hundreds of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities, an official document reveals.

It is mind-boggling to read that 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.

According to the latest Annual Statistical Report released by the KP elementary and secondary education (ES&E) department, there are 28472 government schools in KP of which 27975 are functional while 397 are non-functional/temporarily closed and 100 are newly constructed. Majority or 23073 (83 per cent)of the schools are Government Primary schools (GPSs) while government middle schools (GMSs) high schools (GHSs) and higher secondary schools (GHSSs) makeup 9, 7 and 1 per cent of all the schools respectively.

Most of the non-functional/temporary closed schools are girls’ schools with 288 of them primary and 7 secondary schools.

Of the total 44873 and 25364 rooms in male and female GPSs, 4563 and 2039 rooms need major repairs, 11929 and 5504 minor repairs while another 3600 and 1416 room need rehabilitation respectively.

Similarly, amongst the 12644 rooms in GMSs, 784 need major repairs, 3048 minor repairs and 634 rooms are in need of rehabilitation. Again, off the total 15377 rooms in GHSs, 2220, 5361and 2343 rooms are in need of major and minor repairs and rehabilitation respectively. And off the 8167 rooms in GHSSs in the province, 648 rooms need major repairs, 1434 minor repairs and 647rehabilitation.

As for other facilities like library, computer and science laboratory, the report says that only 1205, 254 and 1152 off 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.

With strategic use of computer bases learning tools, educational institutions can provide the supportive productive environment teachers need to reach, teach, and support each student’s learning needs and potential. But KP’s provincial assembly was informed last year that around 2000 GHSs and GHSSs in KP lacked computer labs and 4,500 computer teachers were needed.

According to the report, 3.93 million students study in 27975 functional government schools with 2.84 million in GPSs, 0.76mn in GMSs, 0.29mn in GHSs and 0.041mn in GHSSs across the province. 1.51mn students also read in 6743 non-govt schools here. Most of the 119274 teachers in government schools are male (78172) but female teachers in private schools account for 44466 off 85325 teachers.

The teacher-student ratio in GPSs is 1:39 and secondary schools level is 1:23 but it is much greater in some schools. The report shows that 1175 male and 1450 female GPSs have only a teacher to teach all the classes and the students-teachers ratio for these schools is 1:58 and 1:61 respectively. 344 male and 103 female primary schools have no rooms to shelter students.

10318 off the total primary schools have two rooms and two teachers, obviously short of what is required.

Though females account for over 50 per cent of population here, girls schools make up 36 per cent of all the schools but their share further comes down to 33 per cent at high and higher secondary levels.

According to a report in The News in 2009, out of total of 4338 and 2609 rooms in all schools in Mardan, as many as 713 rooms in boys’ schools and 399 in the female ones needed major repairs. The recent report says 480 rooms in male schools and 211 rooms still await major repair.

Overall Net Enrolment Ratio at primary level is 48 percent (52 and 44 percent for male and female schools) but it is at 28 per cent (33 and 21 per cent for boys and girls) in all middle to higher schools of the province.

While enrolment overall increased by around 23.9 per cent in the last 10 years (2003 to 2012), increase in teachers and functional schools was recorded at 15.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. Annual growth in the three was also disproportionate at 2.66, 1.75 and 0.86 per cent in that order. However girls’ enrolment grew by 3 times against boys’.

During 2011 and 2012, the dropout rate for the stages from 5th to 9th grade has been recorded at 16, 9, 7, 14 and 16 per cent for boys. For the girls, it has been recorded at 24, 9, 8, 21 and 8 per cent in that order.

But dropout rate could be higher if we analyse the data intently. The date reveals 0.519mn students were admitted in the prep class in GPSs across the province in 2003-04. By 2008-09, when the students reached the 5th grade, their number stood at 0.29mn which means around 50 per cent of them dropped out. By 2012, only 0.16mn students of these are recorded the 9th grade.

If not for the huge dropout and the spread of private education networks, the existing number of schools would hardly have accommodated all the students of the preceding stages. Are these two phenomena blessings in disguise for the planners?

Thought dropout in GHSSs has not been ascertained in the report, it must have considerably decreased ( Correction: increased) as both total male and female enrolment has been recorded at 41000 in last year for both first and second year.

The report further says that 1101of the total 21972 parents-teachers councils (PTCs) in primary schools are non-functional. Similarly out of 4710 PTCs in middle and secondary schools, 192 are non-functional. The PTCs, it should be reminded, are meant for parents-teachers coordination.

The report shows that out of the sanctioned 133750 (86963 male and 46787 female) teachers, 119274 (78172 male and 41102 female) teachers work these days. It means a deficit of over 14000 teachers. Another 6992 teachers (3185 Primary and 3807 Secondary Schools teachers) will retire during the next 5 years. This, if not tackled soon, may expand teachers-students ratio and the latter’s’ woes, especially at higher secondary levels.

572 posts of male and 342 posts of female subject specialists, who teach students in grade 11 and 12 in the GHSSs, are still lying vacant, according to the report.

There is no analysis as to how many of the GHSSs in the province afford both medical and engineering classes but knowledgeable sources say most of them don’t offer courses in science and most of the disciplines in arts for shortage of the subject specialists and resources.

The sector has had received considerable amount in the provincial budgets and has been allocated Rs24bn off the total ADP of Rs118bn this year. Experts say government schools have spacious buildings and plenty of teachers but loose administration, poor monitoring mechanism, outdated curriculum, flawed examination system, overcrowded classrooms, lack of modern facilities, teachers absenteeism, outdated teaching techniques, and political interference etc are the factors responsible for the poor show of performance of the public sector schools vis-à-vis their private counterparts.School report

Electing competent and honest leadership

The article was published on May5, 2013 before elections. Sorry for delayed posting.

Voting values
While the ECP and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes, what are the merits and demerits voters should consider before choosing their future representatives?
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/May2013-weekly/nos-05-05-2013/pol1.htm#3

A week later, on May 11, 2013, 86.18 million Pakistani voters — 48.59 million male and 37.59 million female — will elect their representatives for National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies who would subsequently choose the next federal and provincial executives.

This exercise carries immense repercussions for over 180 million people as their fate will be left at the discretion of these elected representatives. This necessitates both quantitative and qualitative improvement in voting standard.

While tax evaders, defaulters and the corrupt couldn’t be sifted during the scrutiny process, voters are now the only hope to block their entry into power corridors. They will have to come out in large numbers and elect the best amongst candidates.

However, for multiple reasons — rampant corruption, joblessness, insecurity, poverty, maladministration, unawareness, corrupt practices that manipulate elections, terrorism and the like — voters stand disillusioned with political system that has resulted in low voters’ turnout in previous elections, coming as low as 20 per cent in different constituencies.

In the 2008 general elections, though voters’ turnout was 50 and 48 per cent in Islamabad and Punjab, it was 44 per cent for the country and only 31, 31 and 33 per cent in Balochistan, Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively. Women comprise around 44 per cent of the registered voters but have been mostly kept from using this basic right in the past.

The total number of voters has gone up from 80.7 million in 2008 to 86.1 million this year, but analysts foresee a low turnout due to terrorist attacks/threats, ban on transportation facility for voters by the candidates and voters’ distrust in elections and disappointment with politicians.

But the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes. With increase in the number of overenthusiastic young voters, the emergence of the PTI on the electoral landscape, a comprehensive security plan put in place for polling day, chances of massive women polling (candidates and parties concluded written agreements inhibiting women from casting votes in the past. But this time no intra-parties’ agreement has surfaced so far) and with almost all the parties participating in elections, hopefully the turnout would be good enough, between 50-55 per cent in this election.

Voters generally look at the candidate’s personal caste, character or performance, his party and its manifesto or his own personal interests at the time of voting.

Some, especially diehard workers, say parties’ performances and manifestos, rather than candidates’ characters, should be the main concern for voters because parties form governments and ultimately decide things. But the rest — the swinging majority — have their own priorities.

“The problem is parties are run by their leaders and their selected buddies. If the party is in wrong hands, they would violate rules, its manifestos and national interests for their political interests and will ruin institutions by nepotism and favouritism and use the national exchequer senselessly for self/party aggrandisement. So, a party shouldn’t be supported if its leadership and candidates’ character and competency are questionable,” says Shakirullah Khan, a lecturer.

“Some parties seek votes over slogans of religious revolution, sectarianism or support terrorists in one way or the other. Supporting them is tantamount to dividing the state and society on the basis of sects, religions or creed. Can we endure such an environment,” he argues.

Others say development work, provision of jobs and contracts, financial assistance to the needy, personal liaison with the constituents or good oratory skills should be the basis for supporting a candidate.

“But what if all this is done by a corrupt politician. Obviously, this support is driven by selfishness. Pakistan owes its retarded growth, rampant poverty and financial weakness to these flawed priorities on part of the voters. By supporting such candidates, one may end up getting benefits but this will leave the country’s resources, people and fate in the hands of senseless rulers, so it cannot be a choice of a patriotic voter,” says Muhammad Iqbal, another voter.

Independent candidates were the fourth largest group in 2008. They polled 11 per cent votes in National Assembly and 26 and 24 per cent votes in Balochistan and KP assemblies. Being the main source of horse-trading, they must never be voted for. There are always some persons with good reputation amongst the candidates, but they come from parties whose performances were dismal.

“But even if a noble fellow who is contesting from a bad party is sent to his/her parliamentary party and parliament, he/she will be a misfit there amongst most of the self-centred colleagues. Party discipline is another hindrance. If the party decides on a thing that he/she finds obnoxious, he will either have to conform or risk expulsion. If he accepts, corruption will continue as earlier,” according to Shah Hasan, another voter.

But Iqbal responded the personal abilities and character rather than the candidate’s party affiliation should be the guiding factor for voters. Ignoring all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases while voting, they must vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence.

Vote is a sacred trust and casting vote is mandatory. By voting someone, we testify to his character and abilities and authorise him to decide and work on our behalf. It is as if we engage a lawyer who obviously cannot be a person who can be bribed, intimidated and bought, Iqbal said. “Even if they have been nominated by popular and reputable parties, voters should reject candidates who are corrupt, loan-defaulters and tax-evaders. And they should support competent persons even if they are contesting on tickets of ‘bad/corrupt’ parties.”

Voters should continue with their determination not to send corrupt elements to parliament. This obviously is a long route. But slowly and gradually it will become a norm and most of the electorate will follow suit.

People are heard criticising corrupt leaders, but they too are equally guilty of preferring them over the incorruptible, competent and trustworthy substitutes. If parties ensure awarding tickets to ‘electables’ (not necessarily competent and honest candidates), it is because the electorate too has been accepting their nominees. It’s very shameful that electorate goes on to elect the very candidates, who were disqualified for having fake degrees. This practice of siding with the corrupt must end.

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Original text of the article

Election: choosing competent & honest representatives

By Tahir Ali

A week later, on May 11, 86.18 million Pakistani voters –48.59mn male and 37.59 female – will elect their representatives for National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies who would subsequently choose the next federal and provincial executives.

This exercise carries immense repercussions for over 180mn people as their fate will be left at the discretion of these elected representatives. This necessitates both quantitative and qualitative improvement in voting standard.

While tax evaders, defaulters’ and the corrupt couldn’t be sifted during the scrutiny process, voters are now the only hope to block their entry into power corridors. They will have to come out in large numbers and elect the best amongst candidates. 

However, for multiple reasons – rampant corruption, joblessness, insecurity, poverty, maladministration, unawareness, corrupt practices that manipulate elections, terrorism and the like – voters stand disillusioned with political system that has resulted in low voters’ turnout in previous elections, coming as low as 20 per cent in different constituencies.

In the 2008 general elections, though voters’ turnout was 50 and 48 per cent in Islamabad and Punjab, it was 44 per cent for the country and only 31, 31 and 33 per cent in Baluchistan, Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively.

Women comprise around 44 per cent of the registered voters but have been mostly kept from using this basic right in the past.

Total number of voters has gone up from 80.7mn in 2008 to 86.1mn this year but analysts foresee a low turnout for terrorist attacks/threats, ban on transportation facility for voters by the candidates and voter’s distrust in elections and disappointment with politicians.

But the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and several advocacy groups are encouraging voters to cast their votes. With increase in the number of overenthusiastic young voters, the emergence of PTI on the electoral landscape, a comprehensive security plan put in place for polling day, chances of massive women polling (Candidates and parties concluded written agreements inhibiting women from casting votes. But this time no intra- parties’ agreement has surfaced so far) and with almost all parties participating in elections as against 2008 when several boycotted the process, hopefully the turnout would be good enough, between 50-55 per cent in this election.

Voters generally look at the candidate’s personal caste, character or performance, his party and its manifesto or his own personal interests at the time of voting.

Some, especially die-hard workers, say parties’ performances and manifestos, rather than candidates’ characters, should be the main concern for voters as it is parties that form governments and ultimately decide things. But the rest -the swinging majority- have their own priorities.

“The problem is parties are run by their leaders and their selected buddies. If the party is in wrong hands, they would violate rules, its manifestos and national interests for their political interests and will ruin institutions by nepotism and favouritism and use the national exchequer senselessly for self/party aggrandisement. So, a party shouldn’t be supported if its leadership and candidate’s character and competency are questionable,” says Shakirullah Khan, a lecturer.

“Some parties seek votes over slogans of religious revolution, sectarianism or support terrorists in one way or the other. Supporting them is tantamount to dividing the state and society on the basis of sects, religions or creed. Can we endure such an environment,” he argues.  

Others say development work, provision of jobs and contracts, financial assistance to the needy, personal liaison with the constituents or good oratory skills should be the bases for supporting a candidate.

“But what if all this is done by a corrupt. Obviously, this support is driven by selfishness. Pakistan owes its retarded growth, rampant poverty and financial weakness to these flawed priorities on part of the voters. By supporting such candidates, one may end up getting benefits but this will leave the country’s resources, people and fate in the hands of senseless rulers, so it cannot be a choice of a patriotic voter,” says Muhammad Iqbal, another voter.

Independent candidates were the fourth largest group in 2008. They polled 11 per cent votes in National Assembly and 26 and 24 per cent votes in Baluchistan and KP assemblies. Being the main source of horse-trading, they must never be voted for.

There are always some persons with good reputation amongst the candidates but they come from parties whose performances were dismal.

“But even if a noble fellow who is contesting from a bad party is sent to his/her parliamentary party and parliament, he/she will be a misfit there amongst most of the self-centred colleagues. Party discipline is another hindrance. If the party decides on a thing that he/she finds obnoxious, he will either have to conform or risk expulsion. If he accepts, corruption will continue as earlier. If he doesn’t, he’ll be sent packing for indiscipline,” according to Shah Hasan, another voter.

But Iqbal responded the personal abilities and character rather than the candidate’s party affiliation should be the guiding factor for voters. Ignoring all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases while voting, they must vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence.

Vote is a sacred trust and casting vote is mandatory. By voting someone, we testify to his character and abilities and authorise him to decide and work on our behalf. It is as if we engage a lawyer who obviously cannot be a person who can be bribed, intimidated and bought, he said.

 

“Even if they have been nominated by popular and reputable parties, voters should reject candidates who are corrupt, loan-defaulters, tax-evaders, are themselves rascals or are supported by rogues, run illegal businesses, use abusive language against opponents, are incompetent, known violators of law or support the extremists and terrorists. And they should support competent persons even if they are contesting on tickets of ‘bad/corrupt’ parties,” he said.

“Of course initially, the men of character will face tough resistance in their parliamentary parties’ meetings and parliament. Perhaps they would be asked to remain quiet or quit the seat. Suppose he/she resigns or is forced to quit over principles, the electorate in the bye-elections must reject the party’s candidate if he/she is not as competent and honest as that one or better support another whose one is better.”

According to him, this will be a lesson for all. “The corrupt will never dare compete elections in future. Parties too will never award tickets to candidates on the basis of their electability but would decide on the basis of their character and capabilities to impress the transformed electorate. The men of character so elected will then be in majority. It will bring a soft revolution in the country’s political and economic landscape. Decisions will then be taken on the basis of merit. Parties’ leadership will no more be in the hands of the corrupt but in competent and honest hands.”

Voters should continue with their determination not to send corrupt elements to parliament. This obviously is a long route. But slowly and gradually it will become a norm and most of the electorate will follow suit.

People are heard criticising corrupt leaders but they too are equally guilty for preferring them over the incorruptible, competent and trustworthy substitutes. If parties ensure awarding tickets to ‘electables’ (not necessarily competent and honest candidates), it is because the electorate too has been accepting their nominees. It’s very shameful that electorate go on to elect the very candidates, who were disqualified for having fake degrees. This practice of siding with the corrupt must end.

 

Handbook for winners and losers in elections

The article was published on May12 2013 when election results were pouring in

verdict
Handbook for winning and losing candidates
If you or your party has won, ask your supporters to remain within the limits of law. Bury the hatchet. Visit all your fellow contestants and build a democratic, moderate Pakistan
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/May2013-weekly/nos-12-05-2013/pol1.htm#1

By the time these lines are published, the country would have sailed through the exciting process of general elections — peacefully, fairly and transparently, one hopes.

Everyone who contests elections is ultimately a winner or a loser. Obviously, there can only be one winner amongst the contesting candidates. And if that one is not you, accept the verdict of the electorate and your defeat wholeheartedly.

Otherwise, there will be no difference between you and the extremists who, instead of allowing people to vote as per their sweet will, imposed their choices over them by attacking some parties and asking the people to remain away from them.

Don’t build conspiracy theories or indulge in allegations of rigging for rationalising the win of your opponent. And never indulge in anti-polls campaign as anti-democracy forces would surely benefit from it as has always been the case during the past.

Build new sound precedents. For example, call or visit your victorious opponent to felicitate him/her over the victory. We have something to learn from the developed countries in this regard. Candidates there indulge in criticising the opponents but once elections are held, the loser readily accepts the defeat and congratulates the winner.

And if you or your party have won, ask your supporters to remain within the limits of law and morality. Be patient, caring and unselfish. Bury the hatchet. Invite or better visit all your fellow contestants together. Ask them to guide and help you in serving the masses. Take their feedback as to what were the most important and urgent items on their agenda had they won. Keep in touch with them. This will help you better serve your constituency.

This is what democracy demands to take roots in our country: the spirit of tolerance, conciliation and cooperation on part of both the loser and winner.

With the ECP independent, the print and electronic media highly active and vigilant, voters lists cleared of bogus votes, elaborate arrangements made for conducting free and transparent elections and the people resilient to vote and so on, no party or candidate would continue to harp on the theory of massive rigging or establishment’s interference in favour of some parties to reject the polls results.

All this had made it impossible for parties or individual candidates to indulge in taking over polling stations and rigging on a massive scale as was witnessed in some previous elections.

We have had enough of selective morality. We have had several times been hit by the ‘I don’t accept’ mentality. Pakistan was dismembered mainly for the fact that Sheikh-Mujeebur Rehman-led Awami League, the winner of the 1970 election, was not allowed to form government as per the mandate given to it.

Similarly, in 1977, the military took over as the opposition agitated against the alleged rigging in elections. The period between 1988 to1999 was characteristic of an acute political polarisation between the major parties with Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto.

Between 1988 and 1999, five governments were sworn in against the required/normal two. It was because the PPP and the PML-N wasted no opportunity in dislodging the other by indulging themselves in palace intrigues, and horse-trading, etc.

Going by the principles of popular sovereignty and representative democracy, no one can justify the shenanigans of the religious and political leadership during these years. Some religious figures, unabashedly, played in cohort with the establishment. Routed by the people in 1993, a religious leader didn’t accept the people’s verdict against his wishes and continued his famous Dharnas and ‘million marches’ until the elected government of Benazir Bhutto was dislodged. Then he boycotted the next polls for he wanted elections be preceded by accountability. He didn’t own up these results either because he wanted something else.

The PPPP, the ANP and the MQM, no doubt, didn’t get the level playing field for the TTP threats. There were fears they might go for the boycott, but luckily sanity prevailed. But I am unconvinced if these attacks and threats had any worthwhile negative impact on their final results. Instead, they were judged on the basis of their performance during the previous government. And as the Pakistani electorate usually supports those who are on the receiving end and done wrong to, they might have, instead, gained from the sympathy wave.

The other parties, which the TTP didn’t target, relished freedom to organise rallies and conduct elections campaign the way they wanted. They felt happy for the leverage they got vis-à-vis their counterparts and hoped to capitalise on it. But as it became certain their freedom might not benefit them as they wished, some parties and leaders started talking in strange terms.

For example, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the JUI-F chief, warned that non-state actors would decide the destiny of Pakistan if moderate politics of the JUI-F were blocked. He said the JUI-F was the hope of the nation and the country but conspiracies were being hatched to keep the JUI-F out of the democratic politics. “If our path is blocked, the people would lose faith in parliamentary politics and hence democracy and the country will lose enormously,” he added.

A worker of another religious party recently told me his party chief said if his party path was blocked, they would reconsider their strategy for bringing a change in the country. He quoted the leader as saying that opinions differ on the point as to whether change can be brought through elections or other means. “Some argue otherwise. But I fear if the path of our party was blocked, they would gain majority and I would be hard-pressed to conform,” he said.

What this practically means? Isn’t it a bare warning to the people: Elect us or you would be strengthening those who are against democracy? Can a democratic leader talk this way?

Despite several issues associated with democracy in Pakistan — rigging, horse-trading, role of money in elections, dynasties and feudalism, weak legal framework to impose election laws, etc — democracy is arguably the best ever system of election, governance and accountability contrived so far.

Elections afford the people an opportunity on regular intervals to dismiss those in power if they fail to deliver. It is for the safety, welfare and empowerment of the masses and, thus, cannot be discredited.

The future is now in your hands. Give confidence and hope to the nation that has seen little to cherish in the past. Help build a democratic, moderate and tolerant Pakistan by being a role-model for the nation.

  …………………………………

Original text of the article

Burying the hatchet Or Needed a democratic behaviour

By Tahir Ali

By time these lines are published, the country will have sailed through the exciting process of general elections –peacefully, fairly and transparently, one wishes.

Everyone who contests elections is ultimately a winner or loser. Obviously, there can only be one winner amongst the contesting candidates. And if that one is not you, If you were a candidate but lost elections, accept the verdict of the electorate and your defeat wholeheartedly. Otherwise, there will be no difference between you and the extremists who instead of allowing the people to vote as per their sweet will, imposed their desires/choices over them by attacking some parties and asking the people to remain aloof from them.     

Don’t build conspiracy theories or indulge in allegations of rigging for rationalising the win of your opponent. And never indulge in anti-polls campaign as anti-democracy forces would surely benefit from it as has always been during the past.

Build new sound precedents. For example, call or better visit your victorious opponent along with your supporters to felicitate him/her over the victory.

We have something to learn from the West in this regard. Candidates there indulge in scathing, though not depraved, criticism of the opponents but once elections are held, the loser readily accepts the defeat and congratulates the winner.

And if you or your party have won, ask your supporters to merry but within the limits of law and morality. Be patient, caring and unselfish. Bury the hatchet. Invite or better visit all your fellow contestants together. Ask them to guide and help you in serving the masses. Take their feedback as to what were the most important and urgent items on their agenda had they won. Keep in touch with them. This will help you better serve your constituency.

This is what democracy demands to take roots in our country: the spirit of tolerance, conciliation and cooperation on part of both the loser and winner.

With the ECP independent, the print/electronic media highly active and vigilant, the Establishment neutral, having no darlings, voters lists cleared of bogus votes, elaborate arrangements made for conducting free and transparent elections and the people resilient to vote and almost all parties took part in elections despite threats, no party or candidates in its/his right senses would continue to harp on the theory of massive rigging or establishment’s interference in favour of some parties to reject the polls results.

All this had made it impossible for parties or individual candidates to indulge in taking over polling stations and rigging on massive scale as was witnessed in previous elections.

We have had enough of selective morality. Win, yes. Defeat, no. We have had several times been hit by the ‘I don’t accept’ mentality. Pakistan was dismembered mainly for the fact that Sheikh-Mujeebur Rehman-led Awami League, the winner of the 1970 election, was not allowed to form government as per the mandate given to it.

 Similarly in 1977, the military took over as the opposition agitated against the alleged rigging in elections (there were indeed some genuine complaints of elections rigging then, but my emphasis is on the fallout of the anti-poll campaign).

The period between 1988 to1999 was characteristic of an acute political polarisation between the major parties with Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto alternatively siding with the establishment against the other.

Between 1988 and 1999, five governments were sworn in against the required/normal two. It was because the PPP and PML-N wasted no opportunity in dislodging the other by indulging themselves in palace intrigues, horse-trading and playing as the scions of the establishment against the political opponents with impunity. This behaviour on their part was anything but democratic or in consonance with the notion of popular sovereignty –that it is the people who have the ultimate right to elect their rulers and no one else.

Going by the principles of popular sovereignty and representative democracy, no one can justify the shenanigans of the role of religious and political leadership during these years. Some religious figures unabashedly played in cohort with establishment. Routed by the people in 1993, a religious leader didn’t accept the people’s verdict against his wishes and continued his famous Dharnas and ‘million marches’ until the elected government of Benazir Bhutto was dislodged. Then he boycotted the next polls for he wanted elections be preceded by accountability. He didn’t own up these results either because he wanted something else.

The PPPP, ANP and MQM, no doubt, didn’t get the level playing field for the TTP threats. There were fears they might go for the boycott but luckily sanity prevailed. But I am unconvinced if these attacks and threats had any worthwhile negative impact on their final results. Instead, they were judged on the basis of their performance during the previous government. And as the Pakistani electorate usually supports those who are on the receiving end and done wrong to, they might have, instead, gained from the sympathy wave.      

The other parties, who the TTP didn’t dislike and target, relished freedom to organise rallies and conduct elections campaign the way they wanted. They felt happy for the leverage they got vis-à-vis their counterparts and hoped to capitalise on it. But as it became certain their freedom might not benefit them as they wished, some parties and leaders started talking in strange terms.

 For example, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the JUI-F chief, warned that non-state actors would decide the destiny of Pakistan if moderate politics of JUI-F were blocked. He said the JUI-F was the hope of nation and country but conspiracies were being hatched to keep the JUI-F out of the democratic politics. “If our path is blocked, the people would lose faith in parliamentary politics and hence democracy and country will lose enormously,” he added.

A worker of another religious party recently told me his party chief said if his party path was blocked, they would reconsider their strategy for bringing change in the country. He quoted the leader as saying that opinions differ on the point as to whether change can be brought through elections or other means. “Some argue otherwise. But I fear if the path of our party was blocked, they would gain majority and I would be hard-pressed to conform,” he said.

What this practically means? Isn’t it a bare warning to the people: Elect us or you would be strengthening those who are against democracy? Can a democratic leader talk this way?

Despite several drawbacks associated with Pakistani. brand of democracy –rigging, horse-trading, role of money in elections, dynasties and feudalism, absence of economic liberty for the poor majority, weak legal framework to impose election laws etc – democracy is arguably the best ever system of election, governance and accountability contrived so far.  It affords the people an opportunity on regular intervals to punish those in power if they fail to deliver. It is for the safety, welfare and empowerment of the masses and thus cannot be discredited for the looting and plunders of ‘democratic leaders’.

The future is now in your hands. Give confidence and hope to the nation that has seen little to cherish in the past. Help build a democratic, moderate and tolerant Pakistan by being a role-model for the nation.

Review of PPPP performance

Review of PPPP performance

performance
Facts and fudging
Economists are reluctant to buy what the PPP ads boast about the last five-year performance on economy
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/apr2013-weekly/nos-21-04-2013/pol1.htm#1

The Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) recently published advertisements in newspapers and issued its manifesto for the 2013 elections wherein it enumerated its achievements during its last five-year rule.

Economic experts, however, reject these claims and accuse the regime of fudging the figures, mismanagement, poor governance and fiscal indiscipline.

The national economy is still faced with low revenue receipts, declining tax to GDP ratio, rising current expenditure, dying foreign direct and local investment, low annual GDP growth rate, rising debt to GDP ratio, acute power/gas crisis and the inefficient and sick public sector entities (PSEs).

Though the PPP claims reducing inflation to 9.6 per cent, it remained in double digits, hovering between 11-15 per cent during the last five years. As per the Ministry of Finance (MoF) figures, overall consumer price index and food CPI increased from 100 points in 2008 to 175 points and 196 points in January 2013. The IMF says inflation in Pakistan will return to double digits by the end of this fiscal year.

Food insecurity is on the rise. As per the National Nutrition Survey, 2011, conducted by the BISP, 58 per cent of Pakistanis were food insecure.

According to Dr Muhammad Yaqoob, former State Bank governor, the economic conditions of an average family have become worse due to rising prices, large-scale unemployment and shortage and the rising cost of gas and electricity.

The PPP had vowed to establish a fair tax system. It claimed raising tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2 trillion in 2012. Though revenues have increased in quantity, as per 2012-13 fiscal policy statement (FPS) of the MoF, total revenues were 14.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 which came down to 12.4 per cent in 2012.

The government has been unable to meet any of the revenue, expenditure and deficit targets over the last five years. For indecisiveness or self-centredness, it failed to levy tax on agriculture and impose reformed general sales tax as it didn’t want to annoy the industrial, business or agriculture lobbies and political allies. Most of its leaders allegedly avoided fulfilling their tax responsibilities, thus setting bad precedents for others.

The party claimed foreign remittances are now $14 billion against $6.4 billion in 2008. But “the rise partly reflects the diversion of black money and illegally-held capital abroad through remittance channels without any fear of being questioned about the sources of the funds. Moreover, there has been an inevitable need for workers abroad to send more remittances to support their families against rising inflation,” according to Dr Yaqoob.

According to FPS, the real GDP growth was 6.8 per cent in 2007. It came down to 3.7 per cent in 2008. From 2009 to 2012, it was recorded at only 1.7, 3.1, 3.0 and 3.7 per cent respectively.

The PPPP, in its 2008 manifesto, had pledged a sound debt policy and that the future generations won’t be overburdened with excessive debt.

But instead, the public debt — both domestic and foreign debt — has more than doubled in the last five years. It borrowed more than all the previous governments combined. The public debt was Rs4.8 trillion in 2008 but reached Rs12.6 trillion by June 2012. The tax to GDP ratio which was 55.4 per cent in 2007 was at 61.3 per cent in 2012. Total debt is now over Rs13 trillion.

Every Pakistani baby was born with a debt of Rs30,000 in 2007. Today he/she carries a debt of over Rs80,000.

The debt rose up by 21 per cent per annum despite the fact that fiscal responsibility and debt limitation act of 2005 had asked for reducing debt to GDP by 2.5 per cent annually to be able to keep Debt to GDP ratio below 60 per cent by June 2012-13.

If the IMF standby arrangement programme hadn’t remained suspended over the last three years, Pakistan’s external debt of $66 billion would have been jacked up by another $5-6 billion during the time.

The SBP second quarterly report for 2012-13 states that the government was unable to meet its self-imposed quarterly limit of zero net budgetary borrowing from the SBP.

Pakistan’s domestic debt servicing is climbing and is now the biggest single expenditure item. Similarly, its external debt servicing will reach $6 billion in the current and to $7 billion in the next fiscal year.

The party claims to have reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008. But if compared with 4.4 per cent in 2007, it rose to 5.3, 6.3, 6.0 and 6.6 per cent respectively in the next four years. The IMF estimates fiscal deficit will be 7.0-7.5 per cent of GDP as against the government target of 4.7 per cent. According to Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, a leading economist, the fiscal deficit reached as high as 8.5 per cent last year.

The manifesto claims Forex reserves are now $13.2 billion against $8.2 billion in 2008, but according to Dr Khan, the SBP’s Forex reserves stand at $6.69 billion on April 5. “Pakistan must retire $0.838 billion to IMF by June 30. With little or insufficient external inflows, the SBP’s reserves may fall to $5.8 billion by June 2013. The SBP has borrowed $2.3 billion from commercial banks in the forward market and if we adjust it, the SBP’s reserves would be $3.5 billion by then — sufficient to trigger a crisis of confidence.”

The party claimed it reduced interest rate from 15 per cent in 2008 to 9.6 per cent in 2013. Industrialists and experts doubt this. Nevertheless, the rate spread — the difference between return on deposits and lending rates — is still very high in Pakistan.

In 2008, the rupee was 62.61 against the dollar. The PPP left it at 98.98 by March 15, 2013. This has, besides causing price-hike locally, increased public debt and made imports costlier.

Instead of restructuring or privatising the loss-making PSEs, the PPP government kept on doling out hundreds of billion annually to these entities. Most of the PSEs were allegedly handed over to political cronies and were further destroyed by large-scale inductions by treating them, as Dr Khan put it, as employment bureaus.

Though the party claims having added 3600MW to the national grid, the country continues to face acute energy shortage. It has made life miserable for the people, halted industrial development and estimated to have inflicted a loss of Rs3 trillion to the country during last five years.

Over Rs1.8 trillion doled out to the power sector for financing circular debt would have sufficed to complete several projects that would have solved much of the energy problems.

The PPP had promised growth of business and industry with equity and making private sector as engine of growth. But Pakistan’s industrial sector and the private sector was badly hit by lawlessness, policy inaction and shortage of energy.

In 2007, large scale industrial production was 8.7 per cent which came down to 4.1 per cent in 2008 and to minus 8.2 per cent in 2009. In 2010, it again increased to 4.81 per cent but then declined to 1.14 per cent in 2011 and 1.02 per cent in 2012.

Economic growth was three per cent per annum during the PPP tenure against seven per cent per annum in the preceding five years.

Dr Khan said investment rate also continued coming down during the last five years and declined to a 50-year low at 12.5 per cent of GDP from 22.5 per cent in 2006-07. Industrial growth stagnated at near zero per cent against 12.4 per cent per annum in the preceding five years.

During FY09, foreign direct investment fell to $3.72 billion and further to $2.20 billion in 2010 and $1.63 billion in 2011.

…………………….

Original text of the article.

Reviewing PPPP performance on economy

By Tahir Ali

The Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) recently published advertisements in newspapers and issued its manifesto for the 2013 elections wherein it enumerated its achievements during its rule.

Independent economic experts however reject these claims and accuse the regime of, inter alia, fudging of figures, mismanagement, poor governance, self-centredness and fiscal indiscipline.

The national economy is still faced with low revenue receipts, declining tax to GDP ratio, rising current expenditure, dying foreign direct and local investment, low annual GDP growth rate, rising debt to GDP ratio, acute power/gas crisis and the inefficient and sick public sector entities (PSEs).

Inflation

Though PPP claims reducing inflation to 9.6 per cent, it remained in double digits, hovering between 11-15 per cent during the last five years. As per the ministry of finance (MoF) figures, overall consumer price index and food CPI increased from 100 points in 2008 to 175 points and 196 points in January 2013. The IMF says inflation in Pakistan will return to double digits by the end of this fiscal year.

Food insecurity is on the rise. As per the National Nutrition Survey, 2011, conducted by the BISP, 58 per cent of Pakistanis were food insecure.

According to Dr Muhammad Yaqoob, former State Bank governor, the economic conditions of an average family have become worse due to rising prices, largescale unemployment and shortage and the rising cost of gas and electricity.

Revenue

The PPP had vowed to establish a fair tax system. It claimed raising tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2tr in 2012. Though revenues have increased in quantity, but as per 2012-13 fiscal policy statement (FPS) of the MoF, total revenues were 14.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 which came down to 12.4 per cent in 2012.

The government has been unable to meet none of the revenue, expenditure and deficit targets over the last five years. For indecisiveness or self-centredness, it failed to levy tax on agriculture and impose reformed general sales tax as it didn’t want to annoy the industrial, business or agriculture lobbies and political allies. Most of its leaders allegedly avoided fulfilling their tax responsibilities, thus setting bad precedents for others.

Foreign remittances

The party claimed foreign remittances are now $14bn against $6.4bn in 2008. But “the rise partly reflects the diversion of black money and illegally-held capital abroad through remittance channels without any fear of being questioned about the sources of the funds. Moreover, there has been an inevitable need for workers abroad to send more remittances to maintain their families for rising inflation,” according to him.

GDP growth

According to FPS, real GDP growth was 6.8 per cent in 2007. It came down to 3.7 per cent in 2008. During 2009 to 2012, it was recorded at only 1.7, 3.1, 3.0 and 3.7 per cent.

Public Debt

The PPPP, in its 2008 manifesto, had pledged a sound debt policy and that the future generations won’t be overburdened with excessive debt.

But instead, the public debt –both domestic and foreign debt –has more than doubled in last five years. It borrowed more than all the previous governments combined. The public debt was Rs4.8 trillion in 2008 but reached Rs12.6tr at June 2012. The tax to GDP ratio which was 55.4 per cent in 2007 is now at 61.3 per cent in 2012. Total debt is now over Rs13tr.

Every Pakistani baby was born with a debt of Rs30,000 in 2007. Today he/she carries a debt of over Rs80000.

The debt rose up by 21 per cent per annum despite the fact that fiscal responsibility and debt limitation act of 2005 had asked for reducing debt to GDP by 2.5 percent annually to be able to keep Debt to GDP below 60 percent by June 2012-13.

If the IMF standby arrangement programme hadn’t remained suspended over the last three years, Pakistan’s external debt of $66bn would have been jacked up by another $5-6 billion during the time.

The SBP second quarterly report for 2012-13 states that the government was unable to meet its self-imposed quarterly limit of zero net budgetary borrowing from SBP.

Pakistan’s domestic debt servicing is climbing and is now the biggest single expenditure item. Similarly, its external debt servicing will reach $6bn in the current and to $7bn in the next fiscal year.

Fiscal deficit

The party claims having reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008. But if compared with 4.4 per cent in 2007, it rose to 5.3, 6.3, 6.0 and 6.6 per cent in the next four years. The IMF estimates fiscal deficit will be 7.0-7.5 percent of GDP as against government target of 4.7 percent. According to Dr Khan, fiscal deficit reached as high as 8.5 percent last year.

Foreign exchange reserves

The manifesto claims Forex reserves are now $13.2bn against $8.2bn in 2008 but according to Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, a leading economist, the SBP’s Forex reserves stand at $6.69bn on April 5. Pakistan must retire $0.838bn to IMF by June 30. With little or insufficient external inflows, the SBP’s reserves may fall to $5.8bn by June 2013. The SBP has borrowed $2.3bn from commercial banks in the forward market and if we adjust it, the SBP’s reserves would be $3.5bn by then– sufficient to trigger a crisis of confidence.”

Interest rate

The party claimed it reduced interest rate from 15 per cent in 2008 to 9.6 per cent in 2013. Industrialists and experts doubt this. Nevertheless, the rate spread –the difference between return on deposits and lending rates –is still very high in Pakistan.

Rupee devaluation

In 2008, the rupee was 62.61 against the dollar. The PPP left it at 98.98 by March 15, 2013. This has, besides causing price-hike locally, increased public debt and made imports costlier.

Bleeding PSEs

Instead of restructuring or privatising the loss-making PSEs, the PPPP government kept on doling out hundreds of billion annually to these entities. Most of the PSEs were allegedly handed over to political cronies and were further destroyed by large-scale inductions by treating them, as Dr Khan put it, as employment bureaus.

Energy imbroglio

Though the party claims having added 3600MW to the national grid, the country continues to face acute energy shortage. It has made life miserable for the people, halted industrial development and estimated to have inflicted a loss of Rs3tr to the country during last five years.

Over Rs1.8 trillion doled out to the power sector for financing circular debt would have sufficed to complete several projects that would have solved much of the energy problems.

Industrial, economic growth and investment

The PPPP had promised growth of business and industry with equity and of making private sector as engine of growth. But Pakistan’s industrial sector and the private sector was badly hit by lawlessness, policy inaction and shortage of energy.

In 2007, large scale industrial production was 8.7 percent which came down to 4.1 percent in 2008 and to minus 8.2 percent in 2009. In 2010, it again increased to 4.81 percent but then declined to 1.14 percent in 2011 and 1.02 percent in 2012.

Economic growth was three percent per annum during the PPP tenure against seven percent per annum in the preceding five years.

Dr Khan said investment rate also continued coming down during the last five years and declined to a 50-year low at 12.5 percent of GDP from 22.5 percent in 2006-07.  Industrial growth stagnated at near zero percent against 12.4 percent per annum in the preceding five years.

During FY09, foreign direct investment fell to $3.72bn and further to $2.20bn in 2010 and $1.63bn in 2011.

Corruption

Corruption was rampant. Hajj scam, Pakistan Steel plunder, railways corruption, rental power loot and others scams remained the talk of the town.  Anti-corruption bodies were however made dysfunctional by their politicization. Transparency International estimated Pakistan lost over Rs8.5tr in corruption, tax evasion and bad governance during the previous government.

………………..

Achievements of PPPP

The new PPPP’s manifesto and advertisement have listed its accomplishments during the 2008-13 government.

“We inherited a bubble economy based perilously on consumer credit, stock market speculation, property mark-ups, non-transparent privatization and foreign aid. Inflation stood at 25 per cent, making the poor dangerously vulnerable to local and international shocks.”

“We lowered inflation to single digits standing at 9.6 per cent in 2013; raised tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2tn in 2013; We cut the fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 6.6 per cent in 2013(more robust as compared to India’s 8.7 per cent and the USA’s at 8.9 per cent); we kept public borrowing under 60 per cent of GDP; turned a current account deficit of $14bn in 2008 to a surplus of $62bn in 2013; investor confidence grew as the Karachi Stock Exchange index surged to 18,000 points in 2013 from 4,800 points in 2008 ( but the advertisement says it rose up from 5220 points in 2008 to 18185 points in 2013);  Forex reserves were $8.2bn in 2008 but are now $13.2bn (but the advertisement says these increased from $6bn in 2008 to $16bn in 2013); foreign remittances are now $14bn against $6.4bn in 2008; reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008; disbursed Rs 70bn amongst 75 lac deserving families BISP besides other pro-poor programmes; signed the Pak-Iran agreement on Gas Pipe Line, handed over Gowader Port to China; increased exports from $18 in 2008 to $29bn in 2012; the rural economy went up from Rs50bn in 2008 to Rs800bn in 2013; we added 3,700 MW of power to the national grid during our tenure and launched Mangla, Tarbela extension and other projects; increased pays of public sector employees by 158 per cent; foreign investment increased and so on.”

 

Sinking Industrial estate

Sinking industrial estate

By Tahir Ali

 http://dawn.com/2013/01/21/sinking-industrial-estate/

When Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate was established in a remote area, there was no raw material and market available for industries to be set up there. To compensate for high transportation cost on raw material and finished goods and to make , manufacturing viable, a fiscal incentive package was provided by the federal government.

The package announced in 1989 attracted huge investment and no less than 270 factories were set up. When the incentives were withdrawn in 1991, bulk of the small enterprises gradually went out of business.

Zahid Shinwari, the ex- president of the Gadoon Chamber of Commerce and Industry and current vice president of the KP Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the cost differential of about 25 per cent because of remote location was compensated by incentives. But when these incentives were withdrawn, industries went into losses and many closed down. At the peak of industrial production, around 80,000 were employed but their number is around 16,000 these days.

Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber says the estate has ceased to attract fresh investment since the incentives were withdrawn in 1991. Out of 270 units in operation then, around 120 are now running round the clock or in one or two shifts. However, it were small industries that were closed and the bigger ones have even expanded.

He added that industries whose raw material is abundantly available in KP like processing of agriculture produce, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette etc., are nowhere in sight here.

The industrial package announced by PM Yousaf Gilani in 2009 somewhat shored up industrial production. Under the war on terror package, industries in KP were given varying rates of exemption from sales tax, income tax and excise duty for three years. “These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” says another factory owner.

GAIE was set up to provide jobs and livelihood to the locals to discourage them from poppy cultivation. However, no homework was done to impart skills to locals. A technical college promised for training of locals and developing manpower for the estate is yet to be built. Locals were employed as watchmen and for other menial jobs while technicians were brought from Punjab and Sindh.

Shinwari says this partly explains why poppy cultivation has started in some parts of Gadoon again. In April 2012, the government had to conduct an operation to destroy poppy crop grown over 34 kanals in some remote Gadoon villages.

The Rs10 billion GAIE project, spread over 1116 acres, situated about 100km to the east of Peshawar, was created after seven poppy growers were killed in anti-poppy operation in the area in 1987. The GAIE was initially planned to have 600 factories.
The estate has spacious roads, drainage and water supply system, communication, power and gas facilities and standard schooling and medical facilities at Tarbela, lying close to it, and Peshawar.

In 2003 the estate was proposed to be converted to an Export Processing Zone by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the then provincial governor. But the plan seems to have been shelved.

According to a technocrat Mumtazuddin, the estate can be revived by improving security situation and announcing a comprehensive incentive package for investors. “First of all, the government should announce that whosoever intends to establish industries will not be asked about his source of income. Then the investor should get soft loans without collateral and with a long grace period for debt repayment. The incentives should also include subsidies on loans, power/gas tariff and industrial plots, reduced rates of sales/ income taxes, and rebate in custom/excise duties on import of raw material and machinery.”

“For a level playing field, the estate deserves a permanent reduction of 25 per cent in sales/income tax and power/gas tariff. This will not only revive the sick industries but also encourage fresh investment. This rebate will help clear stuck-up bank loans ,” says Shinwari.

………………………

ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE AS IT WAS SENT TO DAWN.

Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate: first lavishly bestowed, then neglected   

By Tahir Ali

It was strange the Gadoon Amazai industrial Estate (GAIE) was at first established in a distant area such as Gadoon as there were no raw materials and market available for industries there. High transportation cost on getting raw material from, and sending finished goods to, other provinces made its products less competitive.

But when once established and incentives were announced for attracting investment in it, these should not have been withdrawn prematurely.

Zahid Shinwari, the ex president of the GCCI and the vice president of the KP chamber of commerce and industries, said the factories here already faced cost differential of about 25 per cent and the incentives had brought them at par with their other counterparts. But when these were withdrawn, industries went into losses. At its peak, there were around 80000 employees in the estate but their number is around 16000 these days. Out of 270 factories, only 73 are fully operational of late. No new factories have been established since then,” he said.

 According to Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber, Gadoon ceased to attract fresh investment and the factories already there mostly closed down or began minimal production as incentives were withdrawn in 1991. Out of 270 units in operation then, around 120 are running round the clock or in one or two shifts.  However, it were the small industries that were closed and the bigger ones who had built huge infrastructure were constrained to be retained and even expanded,” he added.

The industries whose raw material was abundantly available here –like the agriculture processing, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette and its allied industries –are nowhere in sight here.

The Sarhad Development Authority gives advice on the technical, operational and commercial feasibilities of industrial projects but it could not be ascertained whether it had recommended the GAIE or not.

According to another industrialist, the industrial package announced by PM Yousaf Gilani in 2009 has somewhat decreased the closure of industries of late. “Under the war of terror package, industries in KP were given exemptions from sales tax, income tax and excise duty on different ratios for 3 years. These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” he said.

The establishment of the GAIE was pushed by a desire to provide jobs and livelihood means to the locals to stop them from poppy cultivation in future. However, no homework was done on the skill development of the locals. A technical college promised for training of local children and developing manpower for the estate is yet to be built.

The result was that the locals were kept only as watchmen and other menial jobs while technicians were hired from Punjab and Sindh.

Shinwari said had there been a technical college that had trained the locals, they would have been employed at the GAIE. “Non-availability of technicians locally forced the industrialists to hire them from Punjab and elsewhere. However over 80 per cent of the non-technical staff are locals,” he informed.

This partly explains why poppy cultivation started in some parts of Gadoon again. In April 2012, the government had to conduct operation to destroy poppy crop grown over 34 kanals in some remote Gadoon villages.

According to a blogger on Swabi online, labourers worked for 12 hours and no week-end leave, no casual leave and no medical leave were allowed to them. So when the GAIE incentives were withdrawn, the locals and labour leaders remained indifferent,” he says.

But Zahid Shinwari said there may be labour rights violations in the estate by some factories and individual entrepreneurs but labour laws are overall followed. The concerned departments routinely check the implementation of these rules.

The Rs10 billion GAIE project, spread over 1116 acres, situated over 100km to the East of Peshawar, was created after seven poppy growers were killed in anti-poppy operation in the area in 1987. The GAIE was initially planned to have 600 factories. Predominant industries are Textile, Chemicals, Steel, and PVCs and plastic industries.

The estate has spacious roads, drainage and water supply system, communication system, power and gas facilities and standard schooling and medical facilities at Tarbela, lying close to it, and Peshawar.

In 1989, the Benazir Bhutto announced some incentives for the province-wide industries that included an income tax holiday for 8 years, exemption from sales tax for 5 years and exemption from custom duty on imported machinery. For GAIE additional incentives were announced that included duty free import of raw materials, 50 per cent concession in power tariff and provision of loans at 3 per cent mark up.

However in May 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government withdrew these incentives given to the GAIE under pressure from industrialists of other provinces and the IMF.

In 2003 the estate was converted to an Export Processing Zone by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the then provincial governor. But the plan seems to have been shelved. According to Shinwari, the concerned authority had expressed reservations over the decision and the file is still lying there.

In 2007, representatives of the US government visited the GAIE and vowed to revive some industries under the Reconstruction Opportunity Zone programme, under which goods from the Gadoon estate were to be exported to the US duty-free. But the idea could not materialise because the US congress rejected the bill.

What needs to be done?

According to Mumtazuddin, an expert, the estate can be revived by improving security situation and announcing a comprehensive package for the investors. “First of all, the government should announce that whosoever intends to establish industries will not be asked about his sources of income. Then it should give soft loans without requiring collateral and with prolonged grace period. Interest on industrial loans should in no way exceed 12-15 per cent. Subsidies on loans, power/gas tariff, industrial plots and sales and income taxes and rebate in custom and excise duty on import of raw material and machinery should be announced,” he adds.    

“Gas and power loadshedding be minimised if not eliminated altogether. Any possible reduction in gas and power tariff will be welcome,” Shah pleads.  

“To give it level playing field, the estate deserves a permanent reduction of 25 per cent in sales/income tax and power/gas tariff. This will not only revive the sick industries but also encourage fresh investment. This rebate will help clear stuck up bank loans in the long run,” Shinwari adds.

Experts suggest that incentives and industrialisation go hand in hand. For example, when the package for GAIE was announced, over 200 industries were established within no time there. But when they were withdrawn, the pace of industrialisation slowed down, rather reverted.

 

Model Achai cow farm

Model cow farming
Under the Achai Cow Conservation and Development Project, KP farmers will get free of cost insemination, vaccination, medicines and advisory services for conserving and developing their cattle
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Jan2013-weekly/nos-13-01-2013/pol1.htm#5

A Model Achai Cow Conservation Farm has almost been built at Munda in Lower Dir Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The farm is being constructed under the Rs222 million Achai Cow Conservation and Development Project. Launched in July 2009, the farm was originally scheduled to be completed by June 2012, but it was delayed by a few months for law and order situation in the region.

A senior official said that after completion of the remaining only 2 per cent work, the site will be handed over to the Directorate of Livestock within a few days.

According to Dr Wahid Mir, the project director, 20 canals of land has been purchased for the farm while another 22-24 canals will be bought for fodder production for the animals to be kept there. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has around 6 million cows of different breeds but none of these have been utilised to produce genetically superior and high yielding species so far.

Though there are several indigenous cattle breeds like Lohani in Kohat and Gabrali in Swat that need conservation and development, the government selected the Achai cow for its characteristics, inter alia, of good weather adaptability, suitability for the area, docility, high fertility and good conception rate.

“The cow is suitable for the area terrain and weather; it can resist cold and warm climate (can withstand both icy and as high as 200 Celsius); it has a small body and thus needs little food but gives more milk as compared to its size and food; it is docile and can be milked by even children; it has double conception rate than other national breeds; it also has better fertility. While other breeds take two to three years after one reproduction, Achai cow usually reproduces after one and a half year and may give birth to three calves against the one or two on part of other breeds; and because it was endangered as according to the livestock census in 2006, only 5 lakh Achai cows were reported province wide,” Dr Mir said.

The best high milk/meat yielding Achai breeds are to be selected for reproductive purposes at the farm and then disseminated to farmers in the area. Even with the beginning of the Achai project, the price of Achai cow, which was until recently looked down upon by market players, has increased to Rs40,000/cow from Rs15,000/20,000 earlier.

Based on a survey of 400 Achai cattle, the average milk yield in 45 per cent Achai cows was recorded by the project officials at only 1 and 1.5 litres a day. Another 20 per cent yielded 2-4 litres. Some other cow groups produced 4-5, 6-7, 8 and 9 litres a day.

“The respective yields of these groups can be easily increased with concerted efforts for dissemination of best Achai breeds, provision of hygienic feed and efficient animal health services,” according to the official.

“There will be a small laboratory that will be used for diagnosing animal diseases. The best Achai cows will be ascertained and later used for reproductive purposes through the artificial insemination and the embryo transplantation technique wherein embryos from best female are collected and implanted in other female animals,” he added.

Asked whether any semen production unit (SPU) is being established at the farm for semen availability for artificial insemination, Dr Mir replied in the negative, but said that there was a big SPU in Harichand Charsadda cattle farm. A state of the art embryo transplant technology is also being established there. Its services will be used for the Dir farm as well.

Side by side, implementation of Achai project has already started in the districts of Charsadda, Swat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Malakand and Chitral. Achai-rich Kohistan, Shangla and Buner districts have been kept out from the project, apparently for fiscal and staff constraints though Dr Mir said Buner and Swabi will be included in it in the near future.

Through the project, Achai owners are being registered and Achai cow associations are being formed in every village where 25 households own Achai cattle. “Against our initial target of 48 bodies, 102 Achai associations have so far been enlisted in the project area and more are being formed. These organisations will later be combined into a district Achai cattle owners association. Another association at divisional level is also to be formed.”

Asked as to what benefits would accrue to the registered farmers, the project director said that the registered farmers would get free of cost insemination, vaccination, diagnosis, treatment, medicines and advisory services for conserving and developing their cattle.

“We have already provided training to some farmers at the Cattle Farm in Hari Chand, Charsadda. Farmers will also be taken to model public and private cattle farms in KP and Punjab where they will be acquainted with modern ways of livestock rearing, feeding, milking, feed making, preparation of by-products from milk etc,” Dr Mir added.

Another great benefit of these associations is the farmers-government linkages. “These associations have greatly facilitated the work of the veterinary assistants and benefited the farmers as cattle are being inspected, vaccinated and treated by the former at a pre-determined date with the help of the latter at village level,” he argued.

By raising milk and meat production of Achai cattle, the project is expected to boost the incomes of the area farmers. But staff deficiency may serve to minimise its coverage and impact. There are only 56 personnel at disposal of the project directorate province wide — 5 doctors, 12 veterinary assistants and other staff. Each district is to be looked after by a doctor and two veterinary assistants.

The difficult terrain of the Malakand division, scattered and distant villages, large population of Achai cows and staff deficiency will seriously impact the working and efficiency of the project and harder/farther areas will be left out. Dr Mir said more staff was needed at Tehsil level and locality levels for full coverage of the area.

“Veterinary Assistants will prepare an elaborate record of the conception, birth, calf-sex and its weight, milking duration and the growth and then the conception of the child-cow and its mother. This is a continuous process. They will also have to do other field duties like inspection, vaccination, treatment and counselling services for the farmers,” he added.

Though the livestock sector accounts for over 12 per cent of 25 per cent of provincial gross domestic product from agriculture, the sector has not received enough attention from both the federal and the provincial governments who have been handed over its ownership after 18th Amendment.

Insufficient funds and technology constraints have, inter alia, hampered its growth. Animals in the province are characterised by delayed puberty, low reproductive efficiency and low production of milk/meat and are, therefore, mostly non-profitable for the livestock owners, especially for small ones.

The share of livestock in the agriculture ADP has also decreased to Rs0.379 billion (26 per cent) this year from Rs0.60 billion (44 per cent) in the last fiscal year, reducing its share in total ADP from 0.70 per cent last fiscal to 0.38 per cent in the current ADP. Most of the districts still have no model dairy, beef and poultry farms there. Expansion of animal healthcare system and evolution and promotion of high yielding fodder varieties have also been neglected.

Though the livestock department is better equipped, trained and capable of supervising the veterinary drugs, the task has been left to the health department at both federal and provincial levels.

Achai-cow-conservation-project in Lower Dir

Achai cow conservation project

The government, impressed with the Achai cow breed’s ability to adapt to extreme weather conditions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and return on investment, is promoting setting up of dozens of Achai cow associations in selected districts in the province.

These associations are being formed in villages in Charsadda, Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Malakand and Chitral, where at least 25 households own Achai cows.

“We initially planned to form 48 bodies. However, we have enlisted 102 Achai associations in the project area so far, and continue to enlist more of them. These organisations will later be combined into a district Achai Cattle Owners Association,” said the project’s director, Dr Wahid Mir. He added that cattle associations will also be formed at the divisional level.

Talking about the benefit of these bodies, Dr Mir said that registered farmers will get insemination services, as well as vaccination, diagnosis, treatment, medicines and advisory services for their animals for free.

Some farmers have also been trained at the cattle farm in Hari Chand in Charsadda, and will be taken to modern public and private cattle farms in KP and Punjab, where they will be acquainted with modern ways of rearing livestock animals, as well as proper method for feeding and milking the animals. They will also be taught about preparing by-products from milk.

However, Kohistan, Shangla and Buner districts, which are also home to a sizable Achai population, have been left out of the project. Dr Mir said that the programme will be launched in Buner and Swabi in the near future.

Apart from helping cattle farmers, these associations have trained veterinary assistants, who are supposed to regularly vaccinate the animals and treat them if they contract any disease.

Improving the quality of the livestock breed is yet another goal of the project. Dr Mir said that better animals will help farmers through increased milk and meat production. Achai breeds that give the best milk and meat production ratios will be selected for reproductive purposes, and then disseminated to local farmers.

“As the project started, the price of an Achai cow increased to Rs40,000 from around Rs20,000,” observed the project director.

A survey of 400 Achai cows found that 45 per cent of them yielded an average of one to 1.5 litres of milk a day. Another 20 per cent of the animals yielded 2-4 litres a day, while some groups managed to yield as high as nine litres of milk in a day.

The respective yields of these groups can be easily increased with concerted efforts for disseminating the best breeds, as well as provision of hygienic fodder and efficient healthcare services.

However, Achai is not the only cow breed that is present in the province. Several indigenous cattle breeds, like the Lohani in Kohat, and Gabrali in Swat, can also do with some help.

However, Dr Mir explained that the government selected the Achai breed for its ability to adapt to changes in the weather, as well as its docility, high fertility and overall suitability for the area

“The cow is suitable for area terrain and weather. It can resist cold as well as warm climate (it can reportedly withstand temperatures that range between the freezing point up to 200 Celsius). It has a small body and thus it needs little food.
However, it gives more milk for its size and food intake,” said Dr Mir.

The project director added that milking the Achai cow is a fairly easy job, as, “even children can do it. Its conception rate is double that of other national breeds. And while other breeds take up to three years to reproduce after giving birth, the Achai cow does it after one-and-a-shalf year. It may give birth to three calves, compared to one or two given by other breeds,” he said.

Only 500,000 Achai cows are present in the province, according to a livestock census conducted in 2006, added Dr Mir.

To help farmers realise full well what the cow can offer, a model Achai Cow Conservation Farm has been built in Munda in Lower Dir, at a cost of Rs222 million. Dr Mir said that 20 canals of land had been purchased for the farm, with another 22 to 24 canals will be bought for the production of fodder for the animals.

“Nearly 98 per cent of the construction of the Achai farm has been completed. The site will be handed over to the directorate of livestock within a fortnight, after the work is completed,” said a senior official.

“There will be a small laboratory that will be used for diagnosing animal diseases. The best Achai cows will be ascertained and later used for reproductive purposes, through artificial insemination and embryo transplantation.”

However, after having paid due attention to the livestock and animal rearing activities, authorities now need to turn their attention to the human capital they have available. The project directorate has only 56 personnel at its disposal. This includes five doctors, 12 veterinary assistants, and other staff members. Each district has been assigned a doctor and two veterinary assistants.

Mir conceded that more staff was needed at the Tehsil and locality levels so that the entire project area could be covered.
“Veterinary assistants are expected to keep records of conception, birth, sex of the calves, their weight, milking duration and growth. They also have to do field duties, like conducting inspections as well as vaccinating and treating animals. They are supposed to offer counselling services to the farmers as well,” said Dr Mir.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has around six million cows of different breeds, but none of them have been utilised to produce genetically superior and high yielding species. It is expected that this project will change the fate of at least one of these breeds.

The rise and fall of Gadoon Industries

Policy

The rise and fall of Gadoon Industries
Initially the Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate was lavishly granted incentives, but then neglected and left to ruin. However, a comprehensive package for investors can save the dying industries
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Dec2012-weekly/nos-30-12-2012/pol1.htm#1

If the establishment of the Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate (GAIE) in an area located far away from the sea-port with no raw material was wrong, the abrupt withdrawal of incentives announced earlier for attracting investment in it was even more appalling. The Sarhad Development Authority gives advice on the technical, operational and commercial feasibilities of industrial projects, but it could not be ascertained whether it had recommended the GAIE or not.

“The industries whose raw material was abundantly available here — the agriculture processing, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette and its allied industries — were neglected,” according to Mumtazuddin, an economist and industrialist.

According to Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), no industrial estate should have been established at first at such a distant place as Gadoon. “There were no raw materials and market available for industries here. High transportation cost on getting raw material from, and sending finished goods to, other provinces made the GAIE products less competitive. But when incentives were announced once, these should not have been withdrawn on the pressure of industrialists from other areas,” he said.

He said Gadoon had been harmed by policy makers, not industrialists. “With incentives withdrawn in 1991, Gadoon ceased to attract fresh investment and the factories already there mostly closed down or began minimal production. Out of 270 units in operation then, around 120 are running round the clock or in one or two shifts. However, it were the small industries that were closed and the bigger ones who had built huge infrastructure were constrained to be retained and even expanded,” he added.

Zahid Shinwari, ex-president of the GCCI and the vice-president of the KP Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the factories here already faced cost differential of about 25 per cent and the incentives had brought them at par with their other counterparts. “But when these incentives were withdrawn, industries went into losses. At its peak, there were around 80,000 employees in the estate but their number is around 16,000 these days. Out of 270 factories, only 73 are fully operational of late. No new factory has been established since then.”

According to an industrialist, Ghulam Mohiuddin, while around 75 per cent industries had been closed down following the withdrawal of incentives, the situation had improved due to the industrial package announced by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in 2009. “Under the war of terror package, industries in the KP were given exemptions from sales tax, income tax and excise duty on different ratios for three years. These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” he suggested.

Continuous loadshedding of electricity and gas has forced many of the industries to work in one or two shifts. Units closed or working in one or two shifts could not sustain for long. The problem has been multiplied by the fact that most of the technical employees belong to Punjab and once they leave, they cannot be available again easily.

 

The estate and the incentives:

The Rs10 billion GAIE project, spread over 1116 acres, situated over 100km to the East of Peshawar, was created after seven poppy growers were killed in anti-poppy operation in the area in 1987. The GAIE was initially planned to have 600 factories. Predominant industries include textile, chemicals, steel, and PVCs and plastic industries.

The estate has spacious roads, drainage and water supply system, communication system, power and gas facilities and standard schooling and medical facilities at Tarbela, lying close to it, and Peshawar.

In 1989, the government of late Benazir Bhutto announced several incentives for the industries in the province and the GAIE.

The incentives for the province-wide industries included an income tax holiday for 8 years, exemption from sales tax for 5 years and exemption from custom duty on imported machinery. For the GAIE, additional incentives were announced that included duty free import of raw materials, 50 per cent concession in power tariff and provision of loans at 3 per cent mark up.

In May 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government withdrew these incentives given to the GAIE under pressure from the Punjab industrialists and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US because such incentives had not been given to other industrial estates.

Since the withdrawal of incentives, the shifting of machinery from the GAIE was banned but it continued stealthily. However, in May 2012, the industrialists and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government have agreed to lift the ban. This caused the departure of more industries from the estate.

In 2003, the estate was converted to an Export Processing Zone by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the then provincial governor. But the plan seems to have been shelved. According to Shinwari, the concerned authority had expressed reservations over the decision and the file is still lying there.

In 2007, representatives of the US government visited the GAIE and vowed to revive some industries under the Reconstruction Opportunity Zone programme, under which goods from the Gadoon estate were to be exported to the US duty-free. But the idea could not materialise because the US Congress rejected the bill.

Experts suggest that incentives and industrialisation go hand in hand. Both are interlinked. For example, when the package for the GAIE was announced, over 200 industries were established within no time there. But when they were withdrawn, the pace of industrialisation slowed down, rather reverted.

 

What needs to be done?

According to Mumtazuddin, the estate can be revived as and when the government creates a conducive environment for investment by improving security situation and announcing a comprehensive package for the investors. “First of all, the government should announce that whosoever intends to establish industries will not be asked about his sources of income. Then it should give soft loans without requiring collateral and with prolonged grace period. Interest on industrial loans should in no way exceed 12-15 per cent. Subsidies on loans, power/gas tariff, industrial plots and sales and income taxes and rebate in custom and excise duty on import of raw material and machinery should be announced,” he proposed.

“Sales and income tax rebate for five years be announced for the GAIE. Gas and power loadshedding be minimised if not eliminated altogether. Any possible reduction in gas and power tariff will be welcome,” Rangeen Shah pleads.

“To give it a level playing field, the estate deserves a permanent reduction of 25 per cent in sales/income tax and power/gas tariff. This will not only revive the sick industries but also encourage fresh investment. This rebate in taxes, as suggested by the Federal Board of Revenue, will revive industries which will lead to paying more taxes and clearance of stuck up bank loans on their part,” Shinwari concluded.

 

No benefits for the locals

The establishment of the GAIE was pushed by a desire to provide jobs and livelihood to the locals to stop them from poppy cultivation. However, no homework was done on the skill development of the locals. A technical college promised for training of local children and developing manpower for the estate is yet to be built.

The result was that the locals were kept only as watchmen or labourers while technicians were hired from Punjab and Sindh.

This partly explains why poppy cultivation started in some parts of Gadoon again. In April 2012, the government had to conduct operation to destroy poppy crop grown over 34 kanals in some remote Gadoon villages.

Shinwari said had there been a technical college that had trained the locals, they would have been employed at the GAIE. “Non-availability of technicians locally forced the industrialists to hire them from Punjab and elsewhere. However over 80 per cent of the non-technical staff are locals,” he informed.

According to a blogger on Swabi online, GAIE once had 580 industries and mills but due to improper planning, it is losing its charm. “Labourers worked for 12 hours and no week-end leave, no casual leave and no medical leave were allowed to them. So when the GAIE incentives were withdrawn, the locals and labour leaders remained indifferent,” the blogger says.

But Zahid Shinwari said though there may be labour rights violations in the estate by some factories and individual entrepreneurs, the labour laws are overall followed. The concerned departments routinely check the implementation of these rules.

…………………..

Original text of the article as it was sent to The News.

Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate: first lavishly bestowed, then neglected

By Tahir Ali

If the establishment of the Gadoon Amazai industrial Estate (GAIE) in an area located far away from the sea-port with no raw material was wrong, the abrupt withdrawal of incentives announced earlier for attracting investment in it was even more appalling.

The Sarhad Development Authority gives advice on the technical, operational and commercial feasibilities of industrial projects but it could not be ascertained whether it had recommended the GAIE or not.

“The industries whose raw material was abundantly available here –like the agriculture processing, packaging and paper board, furniture, cigarette and its allied industries –were neglected,” according to Mumtazuddin, a historian and industrialist.

According to a Rangeen Shah, former secretary of the Gadoon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), no industrial estate should have been established at first at such a distant place as Gadoon. “There were no raw materials and market available for industries here. High transportation cost on getting raw material from, and sending finished goods to, other provinces made the GAIE products less competitive. But when incentives were announced once, these should not have been withdrawn on the pressure of industrialists from other areas?” he said.

He said Gadoon had been harmed by policy makers, not industrialists. “With incentives withdrawn in 1991, Gadoon ceased to attract fresh investment and the factories already there mostly closed down or began minimal production. Out of 270 units in operation then, around 120 are running round the clock or in one or two shifts.  However, it were the small industries that were closed and the bigger ones who had built huge infrastructure were constrained to be retained and even expanded,” he added.

Zahid Shinwari, the ex president of the GCCI and the vice president of the KP chamber of commerce and industries, said the factories here already faced cost differential of about 25 per cent and the incentives had brought them at par with their other counterparts. But when these were withdrawn, industries went into losses. At its peak, there were around 80000 employees in the estate but their number is around 16000 these days. Out of 270 factories, only 73 are fully operational of late. No new factories have been established since then,” he said.

According to an industrialist Ghulam Mohiuddin, while around 75 per cent industries had been closed down following the withdrawal of incentives, the situation had improved for the industrial package announced by PM Yousaf Gilani in 2009. “Under the war of terror package, industries in KP were given exemptions from sales tax, income tax and excise duty on different ratios for 3 years. These expired in June 2012 and need to be extended for another two to three years,” he said.

Continuous load-shedding of electricity and gas has forced many of the industries to work in one or two shifts. Units closed or working in one or two shifts cannot sustain for long. The problem has been multiplied by the fact that most of the technical employees belong to the Punjab and once they leave, they cannot be available again easily.

Locals could not benefit

The establishment of the GAIE was pushed by a desire to provide jobs and livelihood means to the locals to stop them from poppy cultivation in future. However, no homework was done on the skill development of the locals. A technical college promised for training of local children and developing manpower for the estate is yet to be built.

The result was that the locals were kept only as watchmen or chaprasis while technicians were hired from Punjab and Sindh.

This partly explains why poppy cultivation started in some parts of Gadoon again. In April 2012, the government had to conduct operation to destroy poppy crop grown over 34 kanals in some remote Gadoon villages.

Shinwari said had there been a technical college that had trained the locals, they would have been employed at the GAIE. “Non-availability of technicians locally forced the industrialists to hire them from Punjab and elsewhere. However over 80 per cent of the non-technical staff are locals,” he informed.

According to a blogger on Swabi online, GAIE once had 580 industries and mills but due to improper planning, it is losing its charm. “The biggest of reasons was that labourers worked for 12 hours and no week-end leave, no casual leave and no medical leave were allowed to them. So when the GAIE incentives were withdrawn, the locals and labour leaders remained indifferent,” he says.

But Zahid Shinwari said there may be labour rights violations in the estate by some factories and individual entrepreneurs but labour laws are overall followed. The concerned departments routinely check the implementation of these rules.

The estate and the incentives

The Rs10 billion GAIE project, spread over 1116 acres, situated over 100km to the East of Peshawar, was created after seven poppy growers were killed in anti-poppy operation in the area in 1987. The GAIE was initially planned to have 600 factories. Predominant industries are Textile, Chemicals, Steel, and PVCs and plastic industries.

The estate has spacious roads, drainage and water supply system, communication system, power and gas facilities and standard schooling and medical facilities at Tarbela, lying close to it, and Peshawar.

In 1989, the government of prime minister late Benazir Bhutto announced several incentives for the industries in the province and the GAIE.

The incentives for the province-wide industries included an income tax holiday for 8 years, exemption from sales tax for 5 years and exemption from custom duty on imported machinery. For GAIE additional incentives were announced that included duty free import of raw materials, 50 per cent concession in power tariff and provision of loans at 3 per cent mark up.

In May 1991, the Nawaz Sharif government withdrew these incentives given to the GAIE under pressure from Punjab industrialists and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US because such incentives had not been given to other industrial estates.

Since the withdrawal of incentives, the shifting of the machinery from the GAIE was banned but it continued stealthily. However in May 2012, the industrialists and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government have agreed to lift ban. This is feared to cause the departure of more industries from the estate.

In 2003 the estate was converted to an Export Processing Zone by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, the then provincial governor. But the plan seems to have been shelved. According to Shinwari, the concerned authority had expressed reservations over the decision and the file is still lying there.

In 2007, representatives of the US government visited the GAIE and vowed to revive some industries under the Reconstruction Opportunity Zone programme, under which goods from the Gadoon estate were to be exported to the US duty-free. But the idea could not materialise because the US congress rejected the bill.

Experts suggest that incentives and industrialisation go hand in hand. Both are interlinked. For example, when the package for GAIE was announced, over 200 industries were established within no time there. But when they were withdrawn, the pace of industrialisation slowed down, rather reverted.

What needs to be done?

According to Mumtazuddin, the estate can be revived as and when the government creates a conducive environment for investment by improving security situation and announcing a comprehensive package for the investors. “First of all, the government should announce that whosoever intends to establish industries will not be asked about his sources of income. Then it should give soft loans without requiring collateral and with prolonged grace period. Interest on industrial loans should in no way exceed 12-15 per cent. Subsidies on loans, power/gas tariff, industrial plots and sales and income taxes and rebate in custom and excise duty on import of raw material and machinery should be announced,” he adds.

“Sales and income tax rebate for five years be announced for the GAIE. Gas and power loadshedding be minimised if not eliminated altogether. Any possible reduction in gas and power tariff will be welcome,” Shah pleads.

“To give it level playing field, the estate deserves a permanent reduction of 25 per cent in sales/income tax and power/gas tariff. This will not only revive the sick industries but also encourage fresh investment. This rebate in taxes, as suggested by the federal board of revenue, will revive industries which will lead to paying more taxes and clearance of stuck up bank loans on their part,” Shinwari adds.

Person with disabilitys: the way forward

The way forward
Persons with disabilities need a lot more attention than what they get
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2012-weekly/nos-09-12-2012/pol1.htm#6

International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed on December 3, 2012. The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992. The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack paralysed one of his legs in his childhood. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless.

Despite consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately, the number is increasing rapidly due to terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

The 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization, however, estimates that 10 percent of global population comprise PWDs. Ihsanullah Daudzai, General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs form around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 percent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 percent, mentally disabled 20 percent and around 10 percent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on December 13, 2006, and was opened for signature on March 30, 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan signed the convention on September 25, 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However, it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China, etc. Israel and the US, etc, have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs. However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation. An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker says at least one percent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

………….

The original text of the article as it was sent to The News on November 30, before the international day on disability was observed.

Disability in Pakistan, the world and

The way forward

By Tahir Ali

International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed tomorrow (3rd December 2012). The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992.

The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack in his childhood paralysed his one leg. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless. Despite his consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately the number is increasing rapidly for wars, terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

There is still no reliable data on disability in Pakistan. However the 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization however estimates that 10 per cent of global population comprise PWDs. Those working on disability say PWDs form 12-15 per cent of Pakistan’s population.

Ihsanullah Daudzai, the General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs forms around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

This comes to around 27mn PWDs. Another NGO worker, who wished anonymity, said over 12 percent of Pakistan’s population or 21mn persons have disability. Over 90 per cent of them are jobless and poverty stricken.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 per cent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 per cent, mentally disabled 20 per cent and around 10 per cent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on 13th December 2006, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan has signed the convention on 25 September 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China etc. Israel and the US etc have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

“Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

Pakistan has since then taken a number of steps to facilitate PWDs. 50% concession in Air, Train and Road fare for PWDs has been announced. Tuition, hostel and other expenditures for the PWDs have also been waived off at universities’ level.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

Besides the Director General of Special Education and Social Welfare, Pakistan Baitulmal, Benazir Income Support Programme and other public sector entities, the Layton Rehmatullah Benevolent Trust, Milestone Society for the Special Persons, Society For Disabled Women Pakistan,, Handicap International and many other foreign and local NGOs work for the for rehabilitation and empowerment of PWDs in the country.

The way forward

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

The government should provide them access to education, health services, social and legal assistance, cultural activities, vocational and life-skills training.

Mainstreaming disability requires taking specific measures at all levels, strengthening the regional knowledge/policy frameworks and warrants addressing the needs of PWDs within the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are however no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs.

However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation.

An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue. General Assembly resolution 64/131 also called on governments to build a knowledge data-base on PWDs, which could be used to facilitate disability-sensitive development policy planning, monitoring, evaluation and implementation.

PWDs should not be considered as “objects” of charity, treatment and social protection. They rather should be viewed as “subjects” with rights, who are worth of those rights and can shape their lives as per their own accord.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker said says at least one per cent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

Understanding disability and PWDs under risk

By Tahir Ali

What is disability?

There is no agreed upon definition of the term disability. Generally speaking, the PWDs can be classified into severe physically disabled (wheelchair bound), mild physically disabled (walking with crutches, walker. stick), visually impaired (blind/partially blind), speaking impaired (dumb), hearing impaired (deaf) and mentally impaired.

However, According to the National Policy on the issue of disability” 2002, “A person with disabilities means who, on account of injury, disease, or congenital deformity, is handicapped in undertaking any gainful profession or employment, and includes persons who are visually/hearing impaired, and/or physically and mentally disabled.”

Disability is not for impairment alone, but should be seen as the result of interaction between a person and his or her environment.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states that they “include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

PWDs under risk

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) face several prejudices. The biggest problem they face is the hostile social environment so that if a person limps he is called langra. And if he has lost an eye, he is summoned as kana.

PWDs are commonly the poorest of the poor in society, experiencing social exclusion and discrimination at all levels.

Also, the PWDs have restricted access to physical environment, to microfinance institutions, to information and communications technology resulting from legislation, policy or societal attitudes or discrimination in areas such as education, employment and transportation.

The wheelchair is one of the widely used assistive devices. Out of around 70mn in need of wheelchairs worldwide, only 5-15 per cent PWDs have access to it. Little access to travel and tourism or sports facilities is another problem.

All PWDs, and especially women and children, are at much higher risk of violence, neglect, poverty and exploitation. Factors such as stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability, indifference of the government, their poverty and the lack of social support for them and their supporters etc make them vulnerable to the above and other dangers.

Every minute over 30 women, the World Bank reports, are seriously injured or disabled during labour and these 15-50mn women mostly go unnoticed. The global literacy rate is as low as one per cent for women with disabilities, according to a UNDP study.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation. To address this concern, the CRPD has also taken a two track approach to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women with disabilities.

The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons also states that women face significantly more difficulties – in both public and private spheres – in attaining access to adequate housing, health, education, vocational training and employment. They also experience inequality in hiring, promotion rates and pay for equal work, access to training and retraining, credit and other productive resources, and rarely participate in economic decision-making.

The WHO estimates that over 50mn get disabled in road accidents worldwide each year.

The needs of PWDs are hardly considered while mapping buildings, roads, pathways, parks and educational institutions etc.

The poverty challenge

The Poverty challenge

By Tahir Ali

http://e.thenews.com.pk/10-27-2012/nos_page4.asp

Life for Fazal Malik of Mardan, 60, has always been tough. Uneducated and without any assets or business, he did manual labour for years to earn livelihood for his wife, four daughters and two sons. He is now too old and weak to work. One of his daughters is mentally retarded. His elder son is uneducated and jobless and the younger did his matriculation but failed to find job and is now an addict. Worse, they had sold their ancestral house to treat his addict son and account for other domestic expenses. One of his daughters, who receives about Rs10,000/month from a private job, is the only bread earner for the family. But the monthly rent and health, food and other expenditures are too big for her meagre income. With no help from any pro-poor programme, Malik has started begging.

With widespread deprivations, poverty and inequalities but less effective pro-poor programmes, Pakistan is prone to ethnic and religious extremism and has become a difficult place for the poor like him.

Article 37(a) of the constitution of Pakistan says that the state shall secure the well-being of the people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed and race, by raising their standard of living, by preventing the concentration of wealth and means of production and distribution in the hands of a few to the detriment of general interest,”. And article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that everyone has a right to a standard of living adequate for  the health and well being of himself and his family.

Despite their commitments to the poor, successive governments have had perpetuated/increased the burdens of the poor. While unrestrained price-increases have been allowed, surcharges and taxes on gas, electricity, petroleum and other items of general consumption have also been multiplied that invariably add to the cost of living and throw millions beneath the poverty line. Enormous but untargeted subsidies have aggravated the poverty conundrum.

What is poverty?

There is difference on as to what constitutes poverty and who is poor. There is no standard formula available to measure poverty. Poverty is measured by the household income expenditure by the Pakistan bureau of statistics.  According to some, people living without certain level of incomes or calories (2350 calories per person) are poor but others measure it by multiple indices and say poverty entails multiple deprivations such as lack of access to education, health and electricity etc.

According to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), poverty is a multi-dimensional concept and is defined either narrowly on the basis of income or broadly by lack of access to opportunities for raising standard of life. The extent and depth of poverty measured through different approaches varies depending upon the indices used and definitions adopted.

However, there are some common characteristics of the poor namely, but not limited to, low literacy level, large family size, no or fewer physical assets, joblessness or a heavy reliance on daily manual labour for sustenance, are unskilled, thus work in the informal sectors and live mostly in rural areas or slums.

According to ONE organisation, an international advocacy group on poverty reduction, women are the worst affected by poverty. They work longer hours earning less money, have fewer educational and political opportunities and are more vulnerable to failures of weak health systems and diseases than their male counterparts.

Pakistan’s statistics

Poverty is widespread, mainly in rural areas where most of the poor live. A careful estimate suggests that one third of Pakistanis are poor –women and children, disabled and the aged, the most vulnerable – who have little or no assets and access to essential social services. There, however, is no reliable data on the extent of poverty.

The present regime for the first time in Pakistan’s history didn’t include the chapter on poverty in the economic survey of Pakistan 2010-11. It reveals two things: one, fighting poverty is either low in its priorities; second, poverty incidence has gone up.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) reported recently that poverty incidence is 33 per cent in Pakistan or that around 59 million persons are living below the poverty line.

The SDPI report says 52 per cent population in Baluchistan, 33 per cent in Sindh, 32 per cent in KP (that KP is less poor than Sindh is debatable) and 19 per cent in Punjab lives below the poverty line. It says that 20 districts in the country –16 in Baluchistan and 4 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa –have an acute poverty incidence with Kohistan in KP the most vulnerable district.

According to a research of the Higher Education Commission, poverty has increased to 40 percent in Pakistan in the last decade. The State bank of Pakistan puts the number of the poor at 62mn.

An independent estimate says around 74mn persons live below the poverty line. Another estimate says the number is 135mn, of which an estimated 70mn are extremely poor.

The Mahboobul Haq’s Centre, based on official data from last six years, estimates that 29.2 per cent or 52.5mn persons live in poverty in Pakistan and thus adds that poverty ratio may have gone up.

The World Bank estimated in 2008 that 60.2 per cent of Pakistanis earn $2 a day in 2008, which often is the yardstick for measuring poverty, but in 2005 it had said that 73.8 per cent were poor in the country. These figures are questioned by economic experts.

The UNDP’s Human Development Report, 2011 ranks Pakistan at 145th with HDI value of 0.504, up from 0.503 in 2010 and 0.499 in 2009, through Pakistan’s rank has slipped a little during 2011. Pakistan’s Inequality Adjusted Poverty Index is 0.346 and multi-dimensional poverty index is 0.264.

It was in 2005 that the official poverty statistics were last released showing a decline in the calorie-based income poverty from 34.5 per cent in 2001 to 22.3 per cent in 2005. In 2007-08, the figure came down to 17.2 percent. The figure was accepted by the WB, IMF and ADB but the PPP regime didn’t release it officially.

It was astonishingly recorded at 12.4 percent in 2010-11 by an official team but the PPP government aptly decided not to release the figure. With this an election year, the government, as per reports, wishes to show that poverty incidence has decreased ever since this government came to power in 2008.

But the goal of poverty reduction becomes very difficult if high inflation, increasing indirect taxation, low economic growth that forces job cuts, declining and twisted development and pro-poor expenditures are taken into account.

Why poverty increased?

Pakistan has initiated several Safety net programs to save the poor from economic shocks but according to a research, most of these pro-poor programmes are fragmented and often duplicative, have limited coverage, are poorly targeted (Only a fraction of Rs500bn spent by the government on different subsidies last year reached the poor) and most contribution are obtained by non-poor households, are characterised by slack implementation and monitoring capacity is very low.

Lack of access to markets/services, snags in agriculture development, illiteracy, political uncertainty that triggered frequent changes in regime that made long term development planning impossible, slump in businesses, low investment, increased joblessness for rising energy cuts and militancy, inflation and currency devaluation, recurrent natural calamities, un-targeted energy and food subsidies, inequitable income/resource distribution (the richest one per cent, it is estimated, grabbed 20 per cent of total income in 2001. This might have surged further of late), governance deficit, government’s failure to affect sustainable enterprise development, and limited coverage of social safety programmes have exacerbated, or failed to stem, poverty in the country.

The Asian Development Bank ascribes rise in poverty to growing population, internal tensions, mounting defence expenditure, agricultural backwardness, unequal income distribution, swelling utility charges and rising non-productive activities.

Mr Wolfgang Herbinger, Director World Food Programme in Pakistan, argued last year that food prices were too high in Pakistan and it is a country full with food but with people who are too poor to buy it.

Changes in per capita income, economic conditions, unemployment situation, and remittances alter economic fortunes and force people move in or out of the poverty situation.

The level and intensity of poverty is dependent on the pace of economic growth, the degree of social, political, and economic inclusion or exclusion, weak governance, inefficient judicial system, poor service delivery performance and corruption and leakage.

The Rural Support Programs Network,  through its dialogue with communities in different districts of Pakistan identified discriminatory education system, high incidence of health problems, widespread unemployment, deprivation from capital for enterprise development, few opportunities for women, lack of vocational skills, inadequacy of agriculture and livestock extension services, environmental degradation, inconsistent water supply, lack of access to justice, and a rapid rise in population, and at times variance between local needs and projects as the reasons for rampant poverty.

According to another report, ‘Human Development in South Asia 2012’ ‘governance deficit’ is adversely hampering efforts to cut poverty despite big expenditures. “(It) increases out-of-pocket expense for health and education….and (causes) unequal access to water, sanitation and electricity.

(To be continued)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s hydro-power plan

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 10-year hydro-power plan
By Tahir Ali
13th August, 2012

THE Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has launched a 10-year hydro-power action plan under which several projects would be executed in the province to generate 2100 megawatts of electricity.

Under the action plan 2011-2025, the Sarhad Hydro-Development Organisation (Shydo) would initiate eight hydro projects with a capacity of 628MW. These are Matiltan HPP, Swat, 84MW; Sharmai Dir 115MW; Koto Dir 31MW; Karora Kohistan 10MW; Jabori Mansehra eight MW; Shushai-Zhendoli Chitral 144MW; Shogo Sin Chitral 132 MW and Lawi Chitral 69MW.

KP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti recently inaugurated the Matiltan and Daral Khwar hydro power projects (HPPs) in Swat with 84 and 36.5MW capacity each.

The Matiltan power station would have 6km long tunnel and would be completed in next five years while the Daral Khwar HPP at a cost of Rs7bn was expected to be ready in next three years. The later will be funded through Hydro Development Fund (HDF) and ADP in a ratio of 90:10 respectively.

According to official documents, Shydo has also started feasibility study of another 13 projects with a capacity of 1322MW to be completed in next two to three years at a cost of Rs5 billion.

Shydo is currently operating four projects in the province –one each in Malakand and Swabi districts and two in Chitral district.

The installed capacity of these projects is 105MW with an annual revenue generation capacity of over Rs2bn to 3bn.

A loan agreement has been signed with the Asian Development Bank for the development of hydro power projects at a cost of Rs60bn. Besides funding some projects under the same loan, Shydo has also financed feasibility studies of three projects of 48MW in Koto HPP Dir Lower, Shangla and Mansehra. Construction of these plants would start this year.

Shydo has also completed pre-feasibility studies of 10 sites in various districts of the province and these sites will be offered to private sector for development.

Chief officer of the Planning and Development Department Usman Gul said energy and power sector were priority sectors of the KP government. “We have entered the implementation stage and now the infrastructure will be developed in these areas.

However, these are long-term projects which will bear fruit in 4-5 years,” he said.

Though the rest of Malakand division accounts for most of the planned hydro power projects, Swat has very little share in the programme. Swat has great potential for run of the river projects.

According to the Shydo official, the government was spending 50 per cent of the funds in Malakand Dvision. “Almost 13 out of 15 ongoing projects and Rs600mn of Rs1.137bn total are for Malakand. Of the total cost of Rs23bn, the total project cost in case of Malakand division comes to around Rs16bn,” he added.

The provincial government from this fiscal year has doubled the royalty for power generating areas to 10 per cent of the net hydro profits receivable from Wapda/federal government from five per cent which would be spent on development in the areas.

The said share will be over and above the districts’ and provincial ADP.

Swat development initiatives

planning
Returning to normalcy
A few development projects
undertaken in Swat can make the difference for the local people
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/aug2012-weekly/nos-05-08-2012/pol1.htm#2

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has undertaken several development initiatives in Swat and Malakand division (MD) with the support from local and foreign partners.

The Chief Planning Officer (CPO) of P&D KP, Usman Gul, said hundreds of projects worth around Rs145bn are being pursued there. “213 projects in line with the Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) Strategy worth Rs114bn are being planned with allocation of Rs11.4bn this year’s ADP for the purpose.

Similarly, 5 mega projects under Swat development package worth Rs1bn, funded by the federal government, have been completed in Swat. As far as normal ADP channel funded by KP is concerned, 111 projects worth Rs30bn are being planned in Malakand division of which Rs4.5bn are to be spent this FY. 44 projects of these are due for completion shortly,” said the official.

“There are two donors’ assisted projects underway in Malakand under the ADP: One is the UNDP-assisted for strengthening rule of law in Malakand worth Rs13.38bn with an allocation of 335mn for this year.

The other relates to the construction of three police stations and one police line in Swat (NAS Assisted) costing Rs622mn with an allocation of Rs203mn for this year,” he added.

 “Agriculture, minority affairs, drinking water and sanitation, elementary and secondary education, energy and power, food, forestry, Industries, law and justice, mines and minerals, population welfare, regional development, roads, sports, tourism, archaeology, etc are major focus of all these projects,” he informs.

“Energy and power sector is one of the top priority sectors, therefore, 55 per cent of the ADP alone in energy and power sector is being managed through our indigenous resources,” he said.

According to Gul, there is no foreign aided hydro power project (HPP) in Malakand but as most of the hydro power potential was located there, the government was spending 50 percent of the funds there. “13 out of 15 ongoing projects and Rs600mn of Rs1.137bn total allocated for the sector this year are for Malakand division. And off the total cost of Rs23bn of these schemes, Rs16bn have been allocated for the area,” he added. 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister, Amir Haider Khan Hoti, recently inaugurated the Matiltan and Daral Khwar (Bahrain) hydro power projects. Both projects would earn billions for the province besides considerably mitigating loadshedding.

The residents of Matiltan and Kalam would receive Rs260mn from the Matiltan HPP and 250 persons from the area would get jobs. Similarly, the Daral Khwar HPP would generate Rs100 million as royalty for the residents.

The Chief Planning Officer agreed that KP and Swat has great hydropower potential which should be utilised but said that the government had to see institutional capacity of the implementing agencies before assigning any project to them.

The CPO identified sites identification, acquisition of land, funding issue and security constraints as the main problems in implementation of projects and meeting of targets.

The army has been in the forefront in development work in the area. Colonel Arif, In-charge of the Inter Services Public Relations in Swat, said the army also sought help from the NGOs and sensitised and requested the international donors for assistance to rebuild the area. “By activating all these channels, we have been able to restore 100 per cent all the 1625 schools that were partially or totally destroyed by floods or militancy.

The army engineers ensured that the Kalam-Bahrain road remained open for traffic for the first time round the year. So far, the reconstruction of road and bridges has been done on self-help basis by the army and no government funds have been used for them,” he said.

“We had also worked with the local and international NGOs to revive the agriculture and to rebuild the devastated trout fish hatcheries,” he added. According to another official, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), a subsidiary of the Pakistan army, has been given around $70mn for water sanitation, construction of schools and road infrastructure development etc by donors.

For the total post floods reconstruction estimates of $1.1bn, work plans for Rs34bn have been prepared but only Rs18bn have been committed by last year. For the total post militancy reconstruction needs of $0.86bn, only $0.4bn have been committed by the same period. 

The European Union (EU) has been working through a multi-donor trust fund in various fields, which has set aside $114mn for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Malakand. EU was spending 300 million Euros on the reconstruction of schools and other development projects in Swat and Malakand. The USAID has provided $25mn for reconstructing about 110 militancy-destroyed schools in MD.

KP also hopes to receive $200 million for reconstruction activities from the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Fund for Development which would be utilised for construction of Swat Expressway, university in Swat, besides reconstructing damaged schools and colleges. Negotiations are also underway with the Korean government for the Malakand tunnel project of $78 million.

Many areas still have no bridges and chairlifts are the only means of communications across the noisy Swat River. On the way to Kalam, one can see that several micro power stations and the biggest Madyan grid station have been swept away by floods. As none of the hydro power stations and the Madyan grid station has been rebuilt, the entire Swat is provided power by the Khwazakhela grid-station which is beyond its capacity.

“There is no electricity. The only exchange in Kalam is closed since last two years. The health units, schools and other entities have no facilities. Swat airport is still not open for flights,” said Zahid Khan, a local hotel industry leader.

Humayun Khan from Bahrain lost his house and agriculture lands worth millions of rupees in the flash floods of 2010. “Several NGOs helped reconstruct the houses of the affected people. But as I lost my land too, my house wasn’t built by any NGO,” he says. Humayun still lives in a tent with his family which interestingly has solar-lamps and a solar-cooker provided by an NGO.

The army is reported to have helped women and girls to learn skills such as knitting, sewing, machine embroidery, etc, by establishing training centres which were later handed over to the Sarhad Rural Support Programme. Over 800 girls and women had completed training and were now running their own businesses.

Lasting stability depends on several other factors and not restoration of peace alone. Sluggish economic recovery, perpetuation of faulty governance and failure to reach out to the distant areas and the poor most and lack of a speedy judicial system in Malakand could undo military gains.

According to the World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development, the Taliban gained support in Swat valley by building their case on local grievances, weaknesses in administration and justice system. Unless the region has a sound and speedy justice system, the problem would not be solved.

Peach orchards on the rise in Swat

Peach replacing apple farms in Swat

By Tahir Ali

APPLE orchards in lower Swat, particularly in Matta, are losing space to peach farms, farmers say.

“Peach has become the centre of interest for fruit farmers. While apple trees are intact in upper Swat areas like Kalam, Bahrain etc, these are gradually disappearing in lower parts of the districts,” says Abdul Jabbar Khan, president of Anjuman-i-Tahaffuze Zamindaran wa Kashtkaran, Swat.

“Apple orchards, that require cool climate, have been hit by changes in climate and global warming. The trees are becoming susceptible to diseases and insects and are drying up. With decrease in the number of healthy plants, per tree yield of apple has decreased considerably with less profitability,” he said.

“Apple is losing to peaches for other factors also. A peach tree matures early and starts production in 4-5 years while an apple tree bears fruit in 7-10 years. Again, a peach tree bears fruit regularly every year whereas apple has ample yield every alternate year,” he added.

Both apple and peach trees can produce up to 30-40 crates each of 20 and 10 kg respectively if the trees are healthy. “An acre of apple/peach orchard could fetch its owner up to Rs0.4 million but apple production and profitability is coming down.

Earlier around 50-60 trucks load of apples with around 8-10 tons each used to leave the area for markets, now only 4-6 trucks are marketed. Against this, over 100 trucks loaded with peach now leave the area for markets in Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi,” Khan said.

According to another Swat farmer Saeed Alam, peach has eight varieties. “ Top 1-3 varieties fetch good prices as these are ready by May-June. Depending on size and quality of the fruit, these are sold at Rs500-600 per crate. These days, varieties 4-6 are being sold at Rs200-350 per crate. The next two varieties also usually fetch good prices in local and outside markets,” he said.

“The costs of transportation of a truck of fruits to Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi are Rs20,000, Rs40,000 and Rs70,000 respectively. Each truck can take a load of around 800 crates of peach and 400 crates of apples. The total cost per crate including transportation and harvesting, comes to around Rs80 per crate. Thus a crate usually fetches around Rs200-400 for the growers though it is sold at much higher prices by commission agents. Had there been big local markets in the area, the growers would have benefited more,” he added.

Orchards are commonly bought by fruit dealers before the start of the fruiting season. Farmers prefer this deal as they get risk-free cash payments in advance. But in this case, the rates are far less than the market price at the time of harvest.

Pre- and post-harvest losses are estimated at 30-40 per cent on account of windstorm, hailstorm, diseases and outdated harvesting techniques.

“While value-addition can be a thriving business in the area, it is regrettable that there are no processing plants, neither the people have the means to enter into such lucrative business. The government and private investors are needed to set up such plants in the area,” said Khan.

According to a fruit dealer in Mingora, peaches and apples in the past were packed in wooden crates but now these were being packaged in paper cartons. “Paper cartons may be good from environmental point of view but cannot save fruit against rain and sustain weight pressure during transportation. As a result, huge losses are suffered by farmers, he said.

The absence of cold storages in Matta and shortage elsewhere are also a problem, according to Khan. “There was only one peach specific cold storage in Mingora but it has been closed. The other is in the city which can only provide space to fruit dealers for a month. More such cold storages are needed in the area but they cannot be set up because of acute power shortage,” he added.

The period between June and September is the fruit season in Swat. The local fruit industry provides employment to 70 per cent of locals including females in spraying, pruning, packing and transportation at fruit orchards.

In 2007-08 together with Swat, Malakand division accounted for 30 per cent of provincial plums yield, eighty per cent of persimmon, 67 per cent of apricots and over 82 per cent of apple and peach yields.

A farmer said non-governmental-organisations should offer cash grants or soft loans and modern technology with training to farmers for saving their orchards from diseases. “Far-flung areas such as Kabal, Matta and other upper Swat areas need to be given proper attention to augment fruit production,” he said.

Most of the 0.3 million farmers in Swat are small and poor who cannot afford to buy agricultural inputs.

They should be offered agriculture inputs free or at subsidised rates to nurture their fruit plants.

Revival of tourism in Swat

Revival of tourism in Swat

Internally displaced persons return to Swat. – File photo by AP

Internally displaced persons return to Swat. – File photo by AP

WITH the restoration of public confidence in sustainable peace in Swat and improved road infrastructure in its upper parts, the picturesque valley drew multitudes of local tourists this year.

Swat, called the Switzerland of Asia, usually attracts a large number of tourists in this season of the year. The Kalam-Mahodand tourism festival held from July 12 to 16 attracted over one hundred tourists, according to Zahid Khan, president of All Swat Hotel Association (Asha).

“Hotel occupancy was 100 per cent and locals even rented their guest houses to accommodate those who could not find rooms in hotels. The festival provided the badly needed support to local handicraft-makers, transporters and other businesses dependent on tourism,” he said.

All this was made possible by Pakistan Army engineers by making the routes navigable after constructing bridges and repairing roads to Kalam and Mahodand, the scenic resort located some 35km northeast of Kalam.

Though the Bahrain-Kalam and Kalam-Mahodand roads are mostly Katcha, these can be used even by small cars. Some adventurers had also reached the valley on motorbikes in groups.

Colonel Arif, incharge Inter Services Public Relations in Swat, said the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) would construct proper road from Bahrain to Kalam by next season with the UAE assistance.

“In its bid to attract more and more tourists, Asha last year had announced free stay at hotels for three days and subsequently subsidised stay-packages for the visitors. This year, the hoteliers were so confident that they didn’t announce any special discount for their customers.

Public transport is now available to Kalam from Mingora. And what was an added advantage that per passenger fare from Bahrain to Kalam had come down to Rs120 from Rs300-500 last year.

At night during the festival dozens of tourists went up and down the Kalam bazaar dancing to the noisy beat of music played in cars or by drums beaters. However unlike the golden days of Swat tourism, foreigners were conspicuous by their absence, although there was no restriction on their visit.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in general and Swat in particular is suitable for tourism but it has been badly impacted by militancy, indifference of the government and raging poverty.

After the landmark 18th constitutional amendment, the tourism sector has been devolved to provinces but meagre budgetary allocations and failure to invest in upgradation of tourism resorts continue as in the past.

This sector was allocated just Rs0.67bn or one per cent of the provincial ADP in 2010. It was increased to Rs1.22bn or1.4 per cent in 2011 and Rs0.68bn or 0.7 per cent this year.

The 2010-17 strategy for the province’s development has allocated Rs14.3bn or 1.5 per cent of its total outlay of Rs960bn. Zahid Khan said some major steps were needed to fully revive tourism in the region.

“Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had promised that the Swat Express Way would be built/linked to the Peshawar Motorway but nothing has happened.

The Tourism Corporation of KP should construct roads or provide chairlift facilities to Deeshan and Boyu valleys, two picturesque valleys lying west and east of Kalam bazaar. Similarly ski resorts should be set up there. Walking tracks to several lakes such as Condol Lake in Uthror Kalam and Bishgram Lake in Madyan need to be constructed. The Malam Jabba chairlift also needs to be restored to facilitate tourists and skaters. Road to the beautiful Gabinajabba near Kabal is awaiting development,” he said.

The government should also construct an international cricket/sports stadium and an international wildlife park near the Kalam Bazaar. “The hotel industry should be provided donations or interest-free loans for repairing and upgrading their hotels from the $9 million and $12 million funds given to Smeda by the Multi Donor Trust Fund and the USAID respectively for rehabilitation of small and medium enterprises in the region,” he added.

Welcome to Swat

revival
Welcome to Swat
Thousands of tourists thronged the scenic valley of Kalam to attend the summer festival
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/jul2012-weekly/nos-22-07-2012/foo.htm#1

The influx of thousands of tourists to the scenic valley of Kalam to attend the recently-held summer festival was a rather welcome sign for the tourism industry in Swat, the Switzerland of Pakistan.

The festival was organised in Kalam and Mahodand simultaneously by the Pakistan Army from July 12-16. Programmes were held in Mahodand during the day and at the grassy ground near the Kalam bazaar at night.

According to the Inter Services Public Relations Swat in-charge Colonel Arif, thousands of tourists visited the valley following the return of peace and construction of roads — and sent a message to the world that Swat is now open for tourism.

Mahodand is a scenic resort located some 35km north-east of Kalam. There is a big natural lake where boats and other water vehicles were available on rent.

On the way, a traveller came across stunning glaciers, waterfalls and hydropower stations, and could devour some delectable snacks. Emergency medical camp had been established too. Accommodation in tents was available but several tourists had brought their own tents. Horse riding, free-fall and other athletic activities were also arranged.

However speeding cars and vans created a lot of dust as the road has not been carpeted yet — though it was negotiable even by small Suzuki cars. Some adventurous youngsters had reached the valley on motorbikes in groups.

Unlike previous years, when the Bahrain-Kalam road was navigated only by 4-wheel drives, this year public transport was available to Kalam from Mingora. However, no public transport was available between Kalam and Mahodand. Tourists either travelled by their own vehicles or hired taxi from Kalam at Rs2000-2500 for two way journey to and from Mahodand.

“I have been to various tourists resorts round the world but Mahodand is simply wonderful… The area has all the potential to attract tourists,” said Muneeza Hashmi, a tourist from Sialkot.

In the grassy ground of Kalam, tourists enjoyed festivities at night. Hayatullah Khan, another tourist, recollected it was the same ground where a militant in April 2009 had openly challenged the state — “It is heartening to see that today a multitude of tourists are attending the festivities”.

At night, dozens of tourists went up and down the road dancing to the noisy beat of music played in cars or that of drums played by local men.

The presence of vast number of female tourists was encouraging in the Kalam bazaar.

Unfortunately, no foreigner was seen strolling in Kalam or Bahrain or Miandam or other attractive valleys in the area. Are they not allowed or do they prefer not to come here, one wondered. But Col Arif said foreign tourists are not barred from visiting the area.

Tourism in Swat has been badly impacted by militancy, indifference of government and raging poverty. Kalam, Bahrain and Madyan were devastated by floods. Of the total 136 hotels swept away by floods in 2010, 50 were in Kalam. It still wears a deserted look. But friends and couples were sitting besides the river on boulders, charpoys and standing in the crystal clear water of the river Swat, enjoying snacks and chatting endlessly.

Details about the identity of tourists are registered at several checkposts between Kalam and Mahodand, which most tourists found to be time consuming. Zulfiqar Ali, a tourist, said he counted 17 checkposts from Dargai to Mahodand. “The number of checkposts could be reduced without any compromise on security by opening a big registration camp at Landaki Swat where the visitors are registered and issued special passes,” he said.

Zahid Khan also said though these are meant for public safety, there should be no more than 5 checkposts from Dargai to Kalam.

Col Arif however said that the number of checkposts was reduced from 29 last year to 15 this year to facilitate tourists. “Some tourists’ information and facilitation centres may have been mistaken as checkposts,” he said.

Though the hoteliers haven’t announced any special discount for the tourists unlike last season, Iftikhar Ahmad, a hotel manager in Bahrain, said room fares were far cheaper than other tourist resorts in Murree or Kaghan.

He was all praise for the USAID which he said offered in-cash and in-kind support to the hotel industry in Swat.

“Earlier communication to Kalam and other upper Swat areas would remain suspended for days. But last winter, for the first time in history, traffic to Kalam didn’t stop even for a day. Hopefully, the coming season will be the best in terms of winter tourism,” Col Arif added.

Zahid Khan, the president of Swat hotel association, said funds allocated for the roads should be released without delay. “Former Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani had promised he would release funds for the Swat expressway linked to Peshawar motorway but its fulfilment is still awaited. The Tourism Corporation KP should construct roads or provide chairlift facilities to far off valleys in Swat,” said Khan.

Though tourism is part of the productive sectors, the sector was allocated just Rs0.67billion or one per cent of the provincial annual development plan (ADP) in 2010. The next year, the sector’s budget was increased to Rs1.22bn or 1.4 per cent of ADP but has been slashed to Rs0.68billion this fiscal year.

There is however no foreign funded project in the ADP for the tourism sector in successive budgets.

Tourism has been devolved to the provinces, yet the PTDC hotels and motels are yet to be handed over to the province. If devolved, the resourceful PTDC would suffice the province to run the ministry from its own revenues.

KP’s neglected economic roadmaps

Planning
KP’s neglected economic roadmaps
The Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS) is an ambitious economic growth plan
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/jul2012-weekly/nos-08-07-2012/pol1.htm#3

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has prepared quite a few documents which, if implemented, could originate unprecedented economic development in the province. However, these economic roadmaps are generally overlooked while setting development priorities for different sectors.

According to the Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS 2010-17), the province has strong agricultural potentials, and offers a diverse climate and landscape for a variety of tourism activities. “Located at the crossroads of important international trading routes, the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have long traditions of trade and travel. Hydroelectric power, forestry and minerals offer resources for a modern economy,” it states.

The Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) also envisions that acceleration of growth will be realized by concentrating on natural resource endowments of KP in hydel power, mining and minerals, Oil and Gas and agriculture value addition and agro-processing industries.

“With huge potential for development there is a necessity to focus on growth. Unfortunately, the resources’ investment strategy while following a much trodden path for decades remained captive to an antiquated thinking; to invest more and more in brick and mortar as a development solution to the problems of low and slow growth; high rates of unemployment and underemployment; a decadent infrastructure; inefficient, inadequate transportation facilities; a non-competitive industrial sector and last but not the least, stagnant human development indicators,” states the EGS.

According to the Whitepaper for this and last year, the previous ADPs were skewed towards brick and mortar projects and whereas the social sectors (education and health etc) have consumed a sizeable chunk of the development program, the socio-economic (food, agriculture, roads etc) and productive sectors (energy, minerals etc) remained low in priorities.

The growth policy will target the sectors with comparative advantages of indigenous raw materials and natural resources like minerals, tourisms and agriculture with a significant increase in total investment in productive sectors to attain higher rate of growth, states the EGS and stipulates that foreign loans would be sought for productive sectors if required and for the socio-economic and social sectors only grants would be utilised.

The EGS, the CDS and the budget whitepaper, said the KP finance minister Humayun Khan, have served as the bases of the annual development programme (ADP) this year.

But while in the Rs303bn budget, ADP, with an outlay of Rs97.4bn, including foreign component of Rs23bn, has a share of 35 per cent against 65 percent for current budget which is in line with the EGS recommendations, most of the budget targets and allocations don’t match with these official strategies.

While the EGS recommends 70 ADP funds for ongoing and 30 per cent for new schemes, they have been allocated 62.5 per cent (Rs46bn) and 37.5 per cent (Rs27.8bn) funds respectively in the core provincial ADP of Rs74.2bn.

The province has abundant potential in water, oil and gas and precious stones like marbles and other minerals. Around 6.76 per cent area of KP is under exploration for oil and gas reserves with a one billion barrel of oil and four trillion cubic feet of gas. Investment in these sectors can offer a base for developing a flourishing industry.

While the EGS says productive sectors and socio-economic sectors would be given top priority in funds allocation and the expenditure on social sectors would be capped at current level, allocations to the sectors speak otherwise.

Against the avowed 70 per cent, 30 per cent and 20 per cent share in the ADP for the productive, socio-economic and social sectors respectively as per the EGS, the 9 productive and 7 socio-economic sectors have been allocated just 12 per cent (Rs11.6bn) and 23 per cent (Rs22.6bn) respectively in the ADP while the social sectors have got 39 per cent (Rs37.9bn).

While education and roads have got over Rs22bn and over Rs14bn respectively, energy and mineral sectors got only Rs1.8bn and Rs0.5bn in that order. Allocations for minerals and minerals stand around only 0.9 per cent and at less than two per cent each for energy, power and agriculture sectors.

In the FY 2010/11 too, out of 972 projects funded through ADP, mines and minerals had only 11 projects with an allocation of Rs255mn at 0.42 percent of ADP.

By the end of 2012, the CDS stipulates an additional Rs14.6bn for the agriculture sector which obviously is far higher than the existing new ADP allocation of Rs1.4bn In the outgoing year too, the productive sectors were allocated Rs10.8billion, the socio-economic Rs21.3bn and the social sectors Rs36.8bn in the total core ADP of Rs69bn.

The CDS is a pretty ambitious economic growth roadmap. Its total seven years’ financial cost above the 2010 level expenditure is Rs960 of which Rs648bn would be for development expenditure and the rest for current expenditure. Rs516bn of these would be met through local resources and Rs444bn from external assistance.

It recognises increased insecurity, financial mismanagement, food inflation, inconsistency and duplication for increased donor funding, climatic hazards such as flooding etc as main risks to the implementation of CDS, and has suggested remedial measures.

But the CDS ironically has failed to point alternative resources in case the expectation of increased domestic revenue and foreign assistance fail to materialise while the current expenditure increases beyond the estimates.

Under the annual strategy review (ASR), a detailed analysis of the ADP 2010-11 and 2011-12 was carried out to know whether development allocations in different sectors matched the above strategies and with the short term allocations for those sectors in CDS. As per the ASR, Rs126bn out of the total ADP for 2010-12 were allocated against the CDS recommendations/allocations of 201bn.

“The province is far from eradicating poverty by 2015, and is unlikely to be able to effect a reduction in poverty incidence to 20 percent, as articulated in the CDS,” states the CDS paper. The white paper and EGS eye reduction in throw forward liability — the money required to complete all the ADP projects-by allocating more resources to ongoing project i.e. 70 percent of ADP.

But as the government usually misses the development targets for several departments come up with attractive projects that they could not execute, the throw forward liability is on the rise and is expected to be Rs343bn by end of this fiscal.

The government could utilise Rs79bn off Rs85bn last fiscal, Rs61bn off Rs69bn in 2010 and Rs46bn off Rs51 in 2009. If it cannot ensure full utilization of funds, what is the justification of increasing development outlays that results in throw forward liability for the
coming governments?

And if this government which, besides phenomenal increase in its federal receipts, has been getting Rs25bn in net hydro profit arrears could not bring down the number of in-complete development projects, how would the incoming governments do when the money would cease to come from 2013-14 onwards.

The foreign component projections at Rs23bn also seems unrealistic as the revised estimates for this head in last year stood at just Rs7.5 against Rs16bn of budget estimates.

KP has given top priority to energy and power sector. In this regard substantial amount of net hydel profit arrears has been transferred to Hydel Development Fund (with assets of Rs24bn) and various schemes are under pre-feasibility, feasibility and implementation stages in the province.

The KP government has prepared a 10-year hydro power generation action plan worth Rs330 billion according to which 24 projects would be initiated in KP to generate 2100 megawatts of electricity. But there is a perception that had this government started these projects when it was installed, the province would have no problem of loadshedding now.

According to a 2004 survey, industrialists and traders in KP identified policy uncertainty, tax administration, access to electricity supply, corruption, access to finance, insecurity and transportation as major hindrances to growth.

There is some good news in the budget too. While the foreign project assistance was just Rs4.61bn in 2008 with 83 per cent of it comprising loan component, it has increased to Rs23bn this year with 84 per cent of it to be in shape of grants and only 16 per cent as loans.

Numerous pro-poor schemes have been allocated Rs5.7bn against Rs4.5bn in last fiscal. Ranging from students’ related scholarship scheme to laptop distribution schemes to schemes in health, IT and agriculture sector etc, these also have a scheme for long term financing schemes for industrialists.