Progress Report: CM Buzdar took record public-friendly initiates in the first year

While the federal remains shaky, CM Punjab took some record public-friendly initiatives.

punjab


KEY POINTS:

  • Creation of administrative secretariat.
  • New education policy.
  • E-Transfer.
  • Bringing Madrassas in the mainstream.
  • Establishing of 100 model schools.
  • INSAF Afternoon School Programme.
  • Low-cost Housing Scheme.
  • Formation of Punjab AAB-E-PAK Authority.
  • Policies related to water.
  • Land evacuation.
  • Guesthouses for the public.

For the PTI-led government, the period from August 2018 to August 2019 has been full of challenges in Punjab. In general, the progress made has been impressive in the first year, however, the journey started with a psychological pressure of showing good performance in the initial hundred days. All the work is done and improvement made certainly was no easy job, especially with a chief minister without any previous experience of running an administrative setup.

The incumbent government took six months to put together a team with the experience to implement a scheme of change. The government now seems to have made noticeable differences and has recovered from the initial obstacles.

Under the leadership of Sardar Usman Ahmad Buzdar, the government of Punjab has presented a set of new reforms in a number of departments, these reforms set the direction for the next four year.

CREATION OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE SECRETARIAT:

To abolish differences formed on the basis of region and move towards regional equality, the government has worked on steps for establishment in south Punjab. For removal of disparities, many steps have been taken.

Although it hasn’t been implemented on July 1, 2019, a group of senior officers is working wholeheartedly on the project. The government has reserved a total of Rs. 2 billion for a new setup in southern Punjab. 35% has been allocated by the government for reforms in southern Punjab, and no re-allocation can be done of funds to other projects.

For improvement of the business environment in the province, the government has embarked upon the scheme of implementing business reforms. For this, the government, with the assistance of World Bank and other multiple agencies are applying intercessions envisioned under ‘’Ease of Doing Business Reform Agenda’’.

NEW EDUCATIONAL POLICY:

School Education Department has introduced its policy document, ‘’The New Deal 2023’’. The plan aims to formulate a new school education policy.

The government is thinking of making amendments in the Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act 2014 to enroll 10.5 million children (age 5-16) in schools. It has been made obligatory for parents to enroll their children in school.

E-Transfer:

The School Education Department has introduced an ‘E-Transfer scheme’ for public school teachers. This makes the transfer process transparent and also, based on merit. As per the government’s belief, this will decrease corruption and favoritism and make transfer easy.

Bringing Madrassas in the mainstream:

About 200 madaris and schools belonging to organizations that are banned have been given to the School Education Department under the National Action Plan and the guideline provided by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

A target has been set to settle all issues regarding the mainstreaming by June 2020. A dedicated wing in School Education Department and amendment in the Punjab Government Rules of Business 2011 has been approved by the cabinet. This is relating the addition of registration of madaris under the School Education Department other than the Industry Department.

Establishing of 100 model schools:

School Education Department will set up 100 models in 10 districts, i.e. Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Mianwali, Sahiwal, Lahore, Faisalabad, DG Khan, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan with gender equality

INSAF Afternoon School Programme:

To provide free education to children, from age group 5 to 16 years, the government of Punjab is taking a number of initiatives to provide quality education to children.

An initiative called ‘INSAF Afternoon School Programme’ has been launched in 719 selected schools in 22 districts, specifically in the union councils where there is no high school or middle school education. As per the government, 13,036 students have been enrolled in public schools under this program.

HEALTH SECTOR

A large number of reforms have been taken by the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department for the betterment of healthcare service delivery in Punjab. At Secondary Healthcare (DHQ and THQ), improvement of doctors’ presence, availability of medicine, maintenance of equipment, repairing of infrastructure and effective governance and monitoring is being given more importance.

Primary Healthcare (BHU and RHC) is focusing on vaccination, family planning, Neonatal Care and skilled birth attendance.

LOW COST OF HOUSING SCHEME

Constructing of low-cost houses at Lodhran, Christian and RenalaKhurd under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme have been approved. Rs. 5 billion has been allotted for an affordable housing scheme.

FORMATION OF PUNJAB AAB-E-PAK AUTHORITY

For the provision of clean drinking water, the government has established Aab-e-Pakistan Authority. 49 new drinking water supply schemes have also been initiated, costing about Rs. 656 million in areas of DG Khan that don’t have access to water. Rehabilitation of 656 water supply schemes that are functioning improperly, is also in place with an allocated amount of Rs. 333 million.

Punjab Growth Strategy 2023

For equal growth in the province, a growth strategy has been formulated by the government.  Sketched out by the research team at Punjab Economic Research Institute under Dr. Hafeez Pasha’s supervision, the strategy has recognized about five main pillars of growth.

The strategy concentrates on agriculture and SME sectors. Second, it focuses on private sector development as the main engine of growth. Third, the formation of human capital is placed as the central pillar, due to its significant direct and indirect effect on growth. Fourth, the strategy using the growth model has presented the most ideal allocation of public investment (ADP) for Punjab when it comes to growth outcomes.

TIMELY EXEMPTION OF JUSTICE

Punjab Public Prosecution Department, with the assistance of Lahore High Court, has sketched out Case Management Rules to make sure that justice is timely served. This matter is right now pending before Lahore High Court, it will allow the disposal of cases at a quick rate.

The Punjab Witness Protection Act, 2018 provides protection to witnesses during investigation, trial and prosecution, to cases relating anti-terrorism, serious offenses and sexual offenses. Home Department is also establishing witness protection.

POLICIES RELATED TO WATER:

For water governance and management of surface and groundwater to be used in the province, Punjab Cabinet has approved a water policy. A brief Water Act for the managing of water resources in Punjab has been approved.

Small dams projects have been launched:

With a total cost of Rs. 5,655 million Ghabir Dam Project has been launched. 15,000 acres of fertile land will be irrigated through it, and clean drinking water will be provided in the district of Chakwal. Dadhocha Dam has been planned to supply 35 MGD drinking water to Rawalpindi residents. It will be completed in 3 years.

Significant Improvement in Law and Order:

For improvement of law and order, a number of initiatives have been taken by the government. The process of digitization/computerization of arms licenses for individuals, security companies and institutes have been made easy. Revamping of Border Military Police, Rajanpur, Balock Levy, D.G Khan, and Dera Ghazi Khan has been started.

LAND EVACUATION:

Over the last year, the government of Punjab claims to have seized one million acre land from land grabbers.

GUEST HOUSES FOR THE PUBLIC:

A record of 177 guest houses has been opened for public. Minimal rent is paid to stay in these houses.

The article was first published in The Nation.

 


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