Tolerance to corruption breeds poverty, economic inequality

The News

LAHORE: Poverty, under development, widening gap between rich and poor is the direct result of corrupt practices prevalent in our society. The economic recovery remains suspect even after availability of huge foreign funds.

On the social side, we have developed a culture of tolerating corruption. The high consuming life style is appreciated in the country irrespective of the manner in which the wealth is accumulated.

Civil society is still in formative stage to play a decisive role in eradicating corruption. Lower remunerations to public servants are often cited as a cause of petty corruption.

This is a weak argument to justify extortion which is a crime. More than that, the huge discretionary powers vested with bureaucracy are the major cause of corruption.

Non-adherence to rules and regulations not only weaken the writ of the government, but also promote malpractices. Violation of rules is promoted when ruling elite asks bureaucrats to perform tasks against the rules.

Lack of accountability, particularly the absence of internal accountability in most of the public sector institutions has provided the bureaucrats an enabling environment for corruption.

The office of the Auditor General of Pakistan lacks capacity to audit all government expenditure and restricts itself to 5-10 percent audit of institutions where the risks of malpractice are higher. Moreover, inefficient judicial system also forces the people to get the things done through speed money.

Under these circumstances, it remains an uphill task for even the most sincere government to put Pakistan on a sustainable growth path. The tendency of political parties to pass on the failures to their opponents is also not supporting the cause.

Every government that comes to power tries to downgrade even the excellent work of its predecessor. Thrust on infrastructure projects is blamed on lust for taking graft.

We are still deficient in infrastructure; we are deficient in quality human capital. It should be mandatory on each government to remove these deficiencies instead of halting even the ongoing development schemes. Then we also have irresponsible private sector that considers even corporate social responsibility an unnecessary financial burden.

Sustained economic growth would remain a dream if the government and the private sector failed to rise above petty self interests.

Government would have to improve its governance, while the private sector would have to act more responsibly by paying its due taxes and looking after the welfare of their workforce.

Pakistan lost the growth momentum because of non-availability of skilled workforce, a drawback that still plagues the country, as the economy struggles for recovery.

Government and the private sector would have to join hands to improve skills of the workers according to the market demand. Establishing vocational training institutes is the job of the government.

The private sector as a part of its CSR should facilitate these institutes for imparting practical training to the students at their manufacturing facilities.

Unfortunately, very few manufacturers volunteer to allow the use of their manufacturing facilities for training purposes. Most fear that the trained workers when employed by less efficient competitors would improve their productivity and increase competition in the market.

Such narrow thinking might benefit the efficient industries for a short-time. If all the industries in any particular sector fail to attain the same efficiency level, the void thus created, gets filled by imports that ultimately give tougher time to even the most efficient local manufacturers.

Availability of highly skilled labour force alone does not maximise efficiency. Other factors like workers welfare, hazard free working conditions, medical care, and subsidised food for the workers were also essential to attain global-level efficiency.

Upgrading technology and keeping an eye on what innovations are being made in each sector is also essential to retain export markets.

Generally, industries that shy away from CSR in providing training facilities to government institutes are also not enthusiastic in fulfilling their other responsibilities.

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