World Bank suggests ‘National Council of Ministers’
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World Bank has advised Pakistan to create a ‘National Council of Ministers’ — comprising key federal and provincial representatives — to fill the vacuum for simultaneous and coordinated strengthening of poorly performing federal and provincial institutions, policies and accountability systems.

“While technocratic interventions are unlikely to transform Pakistan’s institutional environment in the short term, the current contextual factors — deteriorating economic conditions, demographic changes and social media — may present some windows of opportunity for positive change,” the Washington-based lending agency stated in its policy advice.

It said Pakistan did not effectively implement devolution initiated through the 18th Amendment and the Centre continued to deliver many devolved functions, creating overlaps in service delivery, increasing fiscal costs, and blurring accountabilities. Due to this, the prevailing fiscal arrangements make it difficult to administer taxes and weaken accountability for revenue collection. It is rare for employees to receive performance reviews, and incentives are based on following rules rather than good operational performance. Promotions are based on seniority and informal networks rather than qualifications.

In order to overcome such obstacles, the World Bank has asked the government to take “immediate measures” to improve coordination between different levels of government and provinces.

According to the report, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and the National Economic Council (NEC) should play an essential role in supporting national policy coordination and coherence since decisions made by the Economic Coordination Committee or the federal cabinet are no longer binding on the provinces.

Several key national policies, including education, health, food security, agriculture, water and sanitation, and transportation, should be formulated and monitored by a National Council of Ministers, consisting of federal and provincial ministers working under the aegis of the Council for Common Interests (CCI).

As part of its advice, the bank said the newly elected government should begin establishing consensus about technical implementation arrangements for a decentralised system, including the reduction of expenditures, the assignment of taxes and revenues, and the transfer of tax functions and instruments.

Using a consultative process with broad provisions, an appropriate constitutional body (likely the CCI) should develop an implementation plan based on the agreed vision.