A published research paper

A Research Paper published in International Journal for Research in Religious Extremism

(ISSN: 2664-4533)

(ISSN-L: 2664-4428)

 

The research paper is property of the research institute and publisher which could be accessed on submitting formal request.

Contributor:

            Rehmat Ullah worked as a journalist in Balochistan for over eight years. Later, he remained associated with policy development and counter-terrorism research at the Pakistan’s premiere counter-terrorism body, National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), Islamabad. He can be reached at ullah.rehmat@hotmail.com

 

Reforming Balochistan budget

Putting the Balochistan budget on the right course

Rehmat Ullah

 

Originally published in The Express Tribune,   Credit:  https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/3560/rehmat-ullah/

 

Gwadar
The residential area of Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea. Photo AFP Credit: The Express Tribune

              Balochistan budget-2019/20 estimates an outlay of Rs419.9 billion reflecting a deficit of Rs47.7bn in its anticipated revenue and expenditure. The government has pitched its development expenditure for the financial year-2019/20 at Rs108.133 bn, up by 39% from the revised estimates-2018/19 of Rs.42.2 bn. Of total development outlay an amount of 7.561 bn includes foreign project assistance constituting 6.9% of the total development financing meaning thereby Balochistan government would finance Rs.100.572 bn for its development schemes out of its own kitty.

            Whenever a new government assumes power either at the center or province it is not often but always clichéd that the government has inherited enormous financial challenges. Similarly, the Balochistan Awwami Party-BAP-led coalition government in Balochistan repeated the same mantra when its finance minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi presented the first budget of Jam Kamal Khan Alyani government on June 19 last.

              There can be no denying the fact that the present government inherited a deficit of over 62 billion rupees in addition to billions in liabilities and unforeseen expenditures and yet another payment of around 12 billion rupees uncashed from the financial year-2017/18 made in the opening of 2018/19. Thereby clearance of this liability forced the cash-strapped provincial government to take support of around Rs. five billion overdraft from the State Bank of Pakistan, the first overdraft in its nature since implementation of the 7th National Finance Commission-NFC Award under which Balochistan remains highly beneficiary whose share increased from 5% to 9% in the horizontal resource distribution arrangement.

            What led the Balochistan government to this hard-stressed situation for which the buck could right be passed on previous governments in their financial mismanagement of which the bureaucracy cannot be absolved of. The regularization of thousands of project employees after completion of projects, upgradation and creation of tens of thousands of posts without their proper assessments of their productivity and contributions towards efficiency and effectiveness of organizations and granting time scales (actual grade of employees is 16 or 17 but they draw salaries and pensionary benefits on time scale grade- 19 or 20) to tens of thousands of teaching staff in the education department bloated the current budget to the present-day haphazard level rendering the subsequent governments helpless to spare funds for development financing.

            Further, there are as many as 28 autonomous bodies functioning under Balochistan government which were primarily set up with aim to contribute in service delivery to meet their expenditures out of their own-generated revenues. Increasing and unchecked employments in these bodies are creating the same situation as public sector enterprises in the federal government. The dependency of these autonomous bodies is increasing exponentially with each passing year on approaching the provincial government seeking bailout packages. No mechanism is put in place to look after the budgetary affairs of the autonomous bodies/ authorities. Similarly, grants in billions of rupees under subsidy to tens of thousands of agricultural tube-wells, and wheat procurement also play the role in deteriorating the financial health of the province.

 

Rising exp trend
Raising trends of expenditure on salaries, grants and subsidies. Credit documents: Balochistan budget publications up to the current financial year-2019/20. The future anticipated expenditure is based on average growth trends of the recent past five years.

 

            Another contributing factor leading to the widening current expenditure is growing pension liability. Though this liability is even a massive challenge for the first world countries to cope with but with sound financial management the challenge could be overcome remarkably. Unfortunately, no previous government ever paid attention towards this financial menace which does not only exhaust major chunk of the budget but growing with each passing year. In Balochistan, the pension liability in 2010/11 was just around Rs.3 bn only but this has jumped to Rs 29.76 bn in the previous financial year-2018/19 against Rs. 20 bn primarily earmarked for the post-retirement bill-2018/19.  Rs.33.38 bn is allocated for 2019/20 for pension but the same could be revised around 38 to 39 bn while revising its budget in the end of this fiscal year.

 

Growing pension liability
Raising trends of expenditure of post-retirement bill of Balochistan government. Credit: Balochistan budget documents up to the current financial year-2019/20. The future anticipated expenditure is based on average growth trends from 2012/13 to 2016/17.

 

              Taken all these together, the current expenditure increases with each passing year by creating fiscal imbalance for the government to finance its development schemes. The envisaging deficit while presenting the budget for each financial year and balancing in the end of the fiscal year has turned a permanent feature as tradition of budget-making in Balochistan. Covering the deficit by ensuring balanced budget in the end of fiscal year forces the government to axe its development spending. For instance, the budget-2018/19 outlay for development was Rs.88.2 bn which was massively slashed and reduced to Rs.42.2 bn in the revised budget-2018/19.

            In the face of these financial challenges, the onus falls on the incumbent government to put the budget on the right direction by strengthening its foundations through stringent reforms initiatives so that the coming governments in the future should not repeat the mantra of inheriting weak financial system. The way forward is to take the following measures;

  1. A full functional committee must be constituted to examine from all aspects granting time scale, upgradation, regularization, other allowances to any cadre etc, thereafter, put its recommendation before the provincial cabinet for its approval. The financial benefits of time scale to tens of thousands of employees should merely be extended to the extent of salary.
  2. Balochistan lacks substantial services and industrial sectors, with the exception of few industries in Hub (Lasbella district). Lack of job opportunities in the private sector leads to heavy dependence on the government jobs which causes surge in recurring expenditure almost by 13 to 19% growth every year. It is a fact that the government alone cannot meet all the job requirements of the population by its own. Nor can the private sector or individuals. To this end, all have to play a part in mitigating the crisis of unemployment and poverty in Balochistan. The government should put in place long-term frameworks of goals, regulations and incentives. It should undertake the biggest public-private partnership (PPP) of all time by providing lucrative incentives to investors to attract them for investments in the province. In this regard the government should escalate the establishment of special economic zones on the analogy of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The BAP-led coalition government deserves commendation for setting up ‘project development fund’ and ‘viability gap fund’ in 2019/20 aimed to incentivise private investors on the basis of PPP. It should increase seed money of these funds in every coming years without depending such expenses on regular budget.
  3. The government should set up a Unit in the finance or P&D departments to look after the budgetary affairs and oversee financial management of the autonomous bodies/ authorities, morphing to be the provincial public sector enterprises-PSE, in order to improve their compliance with the relevant corporate governance laws, rules and regulations, monitor their recruitments, financial management, accounting and reporting, and review their performance else these bodies would turn a burden like PSE in the federal.
  4. The newly created energy monitoring cell in the Balochistan energy department must be made fully functional to monitor actual meter reading of subsidised agricultural tube-wells and government power connections instead of moving ahead with the existing arrangements by clearing whatsoever claims made by Qesco.
  5. Transparency must be ensured in expenses of wheat procurement so that its benefits could reach common masses. Instead of subsidy, the government should experiment letting the market forces to determine price of flour for one or two years so that the subsidy amount could be diverted to financing development schemes in the province.
  6. Growing pension liability will be a great challenge for each government in the future if sound planning is not made now to cope with it. Had the Balochistan government invested Rs. 10 bn each year, received against GDS arrears under the 7th NFC Award, now the portfolio of its pension fund would have crossed Rs. 100bn even higher than the pension fund of Punjab government whose pension fund investment stands around Rs. 60 bn by honouring to have the healthiest pension fund in the country. Today, the government would have met major chunk of its pension liability out of mark-up of its pension fund enabling it to spare more budgetary amount for its development financing. This is time for the government to invest at least Rs.10 bn each year in its pension fund else the future government would not be able to finance either its pension or development expenditure. Moreover, automation of pension payment system be introduced aimed to ensure transparency in expenditure of post-retirement bill.  
  7. More funds must be set up to meet the recurring expenditure in certain areas of current budget like the establishment of compensation to victims of terrorism fund, professional development program fund, awami endowment fund, disaster management fund etc to which credit goes to the incumbent government. Likewise, grant to deserving minorities should also be turned into setting up an endowment fund and similarly grant of hundreds of millions of rupees for youth participation activities should also be made a fund as such activities to be carried out of the profit from the fund.
  8. After the 18th amendment, unfortunately, Balochistan lacked political, technical and governance expertise to benefit from this great constitutional provision. Since passage of the 18th amendment in 2010, the previous governments took no serious initiatives in strengthening the devolved subjects including sales tax on services. Balochistan remains far behind in strengthening its own source of revenue thereby standing in the bottom amongst provinces despite its rich natural and mineral resources. The government should take vigorous initiatives in strengthening Balochistan revenue authority in sales tax on services collection and mobilizing own sources of revenue by focusing on strengthening its revenue-generating departments and building capacity of their officials, besides, updating their laws and rates of tax and non-tax collections.

              The BAP-led coalition government should face these financial challenges squarely and take the initiatives to strengthen the foundations of the public financial management of Balochistan so that the future governments to come be confident to carry out its development financing to which not only employment of large chunk population is directly linked but entire economic activities depend on.

            The writer is a civil servant. He can be contacted at ullah.rehmat@hotmail.com

 

 

Published source credit: The Express Tribune, https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/87465/putting-the-balochistan-budget-on-the-right-course/ 

 

An essay upon essay

The art of essay writing

By Rehmat Ullah

 

Originally published in the Balochistan Voices ( http://balochistanvoices.com/2019/09/an-essay-upon-essay-the-art-of-essay-writing/ )

 

        Many books have thus far been written on essay writing for guiding students and aspirant candidates appearing in competitive examinations. But, the writer has written this exclusive article on ‘an essay upon essays and the art of essay writing’ aimed to guide in easy way students and candidates of various competitive examinations including Central Superior Services (CSS) and Provincial Civil Services (PCS) conducted by Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) and Provincial Public Service Commission (Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) respectively.

            The article on essay has been written to guide in simple way with great tips to students and candidates ─ particularly those belonging to Balochistan ─ who appear in such examinations under competitive pressure; because, denizens from Balochistan are deprived of academies, which prepare candidates, with competent English teachers to teach them satisfactorily the essay writing in the province including in Quetta. After all they compete the candidates from metropolitan cities equipped with all academic facilities available to them.

            There is no denying the fact that essay has to have occupied a very significant place in the history of all classic and contemporary literatures. Whatever the medium of language through which the essay finds its expression, there are certain qualities which the essayist has to cultivate, and ascertain viewpoints to adopt, if you are to write a readable essay.

Essay-BV
Photo credit: Balochistan Voices

            You may ask yourself, to begin with, what are the pains and pleasures experienced in the writing of essays. As no pleasure without its prior pain; such is the law of nature, and the principle of dinner before dessert. And, no essays, let us remember, without practicing extensively essaying.

            It behooves us well to see what an attempt at such writing, an essay, in other words, is. Derivation and history: The word essay is derived from the French root, ‘essai’, which means a trial or an experiment. In fact it was a Frenchman, Montaigne, who first used this word to describe his attempts which he made in his first famous ‘essays’. And, Francis Bacon took it from the French and thus introduced it in the English language. It has now become one of the most fruitful forms of English literature.

            There is shadow of doubt whether any other prose form has got an equal importance with the essay. All the best writers of toady are essayists or remained once essayists. In English literature, the word ‘essay’ occupies significance of the essay itself. Meaning thereby an attempt, an experiment and an endeavour. But it is, let us note, an experiment ending in an experience. That experience is the source of pleasure, although the experiment is full of pains primarily until this discomfort zone turns into comfort area by attempting the experience. But the experiment is worthwhile making in view of the experience which promises to be pleasurable.

            Kinds of essays: people often distinguish between two kinds of essays: the personal and impersonal essay. By the personal essay is meant an essay in which the treatment is important, not the subject; whereas the impersonal essay, on the other hand, is one in which the matter is important, not the manner. The one is subjective, almost lyrical, whereas to other is objective, almost narrative and descriptive. But in all such distinctions, a student or candidate must be careful to note the importance of both personal and impersonal. For ultimately, matter and manner are one. There is no matter without form; no form without matter. But now one aspect is emphasized, and then another; and hence the distinction between the personal and the impersonal forms of the essay.

            An essay, then, surely is an attempt. As such there is no finality about it. All attempts are tentative of an arrangement, agreement, etc. not definite or certain. They are groping to try and find something that you cannot see, by feeling with your hands in some direction. These attempts involve methods. There is a way of doing things which ensures success. And all good roads, we know, lead to the north. Whatever our way of doing a thing is, constant attempts until reaching the north, by reducing the imperfections in your attempts. What is, then, the way of the essay? It is an art. By doing practice. For sure practice reduces imperfection in your skill. For practice requires energy. Directing your energy in the right direction to the north. This needs self-discipline.

            Bestselling author of ‘1,000 Success Principles’ by Kop Kopmeyer, comprising four volumes each contains 250 success principles says, “Of all the 1,000 principles for success, the most important success principle of all is ie ‘self-discipline’. Other 999 success principles, without self-discipline, none of them work”. “With self-discipline, they all work. Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not. Self-discipline is the key to personal greatness that makes everything else possible. With self-discipline, the average person can rise as far and as fast as his talents and intelligence can take him. But without self-discipline, a person with every blessing of background, education, and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity”, as opined by Brian Tracy, author of ‘miracles of self-discipline’ a bestselling book.

            Having said this, set self-discipline of daily-goal setting for yourself. Fix certain hours of your daily time for practicing essay. Devote your specific hours and practice essaying as your daily habit and daily ritual. Then, you will see this willingness will upgrade your essay writing which improves your skill. To this end, reading must also be part of your daily goal-setting. Reading prepares you for getting acquainted yourself with as wide variety of subjects as possible.

            By disciplining your time management when certain hour of clock strikes, which you dedicate for essay writing, occupy your territory, the place in your room where you study and write. This territory must have the sanctity as gym or stadium for an iconic athlete. Here the march on the long course to the north begins. To begin with self-discipline of daily goal-setting of which essay writing must be its essential part.

            Now when the certain hour of the clock strikes and your essay writing class begins. First, be completely mindful that you must go totally off the grid. Many students and youths are addicted to the tech and digital connections by using social media etc. This is obviously destructive addictions at the age of your life when you are going to build your career. After all being always connected to digital world is neither healthy nor productive.  So when your self-imposed essay writing class starts first and foremost go off the grid and turn your cellphones on flight mode.

            When you simply unplug yourself from tech during this specific time of your writing will also help you to delearn your habit of extensive interaction with tech and start wiring new habit that will alter your relationship with tech. Subsequently, quitting constant connectivity with internet and interaction through social media will enable you to become an effective gatekeeper of your own life what you allow to enter in your life contributing towards achieving your goal and what you not allow which does not contribute to your productivity. Therefore, power off your cellphone and keep it aside. No wifi, no social media, no mobile connectivity. Only and only focus on your practicing writing for these two to three hours, being the most productive time of yours which prepares you to build your future career.

            Second, you must disarm all your fear. Start with courage and confidence. The courage requires that you make yourself do what you should do, that you deal with your fears rather than avoiding them. Brian Tracy says that “the biggest obstacle to success in life is fear of failure, expressed in the feeling that, “I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!”. In the face of such situation, Tracy suggests that repeat the words to cancel fear, “I can do it!” over and over, to build up your courage and confidence. He further says that “courage is a habit, developed by practicing courage whenever it is required”. As Emerson said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” Robin Sharma has beautifully summed up about it as he says, “the beautiful thing about fear is when you move towards fear, it runs away”. So take a habit of confronting your fears rather than avoiding them.

            When you confront the fear of practicing essay writing then move towards it, pick the pen and paper with commencing writing, the fear gets smaller and you become braver. Discipline yourself to deal with your fear, to confront it, to do whatever it involves, as quickly as you possibly can. The payoff for identifying a fear and confronting it is tremendous, it gives you the courage and confidence to go through your life and deal with every fear-inducing situation. So burry the fear of making mistakes. Don’t bother of committing mistakes. For mistakes are essential part of practicing essay writing. If you don’t commit mistake, you will never learn; if you don’t learn you will never hone your essay skill.

            Thirdly, you are courageous enough to pick up the pen and paper; begin your writing exercise with practice of completing one précis writing first. You must be amazed with sudden detracking from the topic which is focusing on the art of essay writing but how précis takes place in the beginning. The answer is that mastering précis writing gives you training not only in careful reading but also précis gives you clarity of expressing your ideas in concise, accurate and brief form. In short, it polishes your writing skill.  

            With mastering précis writing enables you to arrange your thoughts and opinions in a manner best fitted to present those views. That, precisely, is what all essay writing involves. Try your best to make your own attempts. It is not your knowledge alone on the subject that is required by examiner, but it is putting arrangement of your opinions in place. Mere fragments of information, ill-assorted facts and figures, unconnected thoughts, un-coordinated ideas and feelings—all these to be avoided by the successful candidate in any examination whatsoever.

            Fourth, take any subject. Preferably, from past years’ papers. Ponder deeply over it. Do not begin at once. Think for yourself on the subject, and supplement your thoughts with as much of the best ideas that have been said about the subject as it is possible for you to come across. Understand the topic. For instance, ‘water scarcity problems’. Diagnose what’s asked. Either water scarcity problems in South Asia or Pakistan or in the world or in which region. Try to ponder deeply over it. What is asked? What is it you have got to say about it? What do you know about the subject? Then, select a topic where you can express yourself with conviction and confidence. Now, begin to arrange it in some plan. Do not put the points in the beginning, as some candidates do. For this purpose, devote sufficient time about 15 to 20 minutes in studying the various choices of themes, selecting the topic and noting down points for writing in back of the answer-sheet or question paper. Then, turn these points into developing an outline on backside of your question paper.

            Remember! the general rule is that arrange the sequence ie introduction, theme/body and conclusion. When you feel satisfied enough reproduce the outline on your answer sheet as this framework helps to present your essay in the right course with cohesiveness and particular order. It is essential to arrange the ideas in a proper sequence. You should try to cultivate a lucid writing style, which has flow and is smooth to read. Logical and effective writing is a matter of practicing.

            Fifth, start your introduction with explaining the topic and its significant features. Try to quote some outstanding opinion on the subject or relevant verse if suits the purpose best. There is any number of them if you care to remember them in the course of your studies. In the end of your introduction, give blueprint of your ideas you are going to delineate in the body of your essay.

            Sixth, body of your essay occupies main place between the introduction and conclusion. Always make your essay a group of paragraphs, each treating with one or other of the aspects of the subject. It is usual to make the pros and cons of a subject, the advantages and disadvantages of a particular subject in the paper, international and regional aspects of the topic. The general procedure for building body of the essay is inverted pyramid. By presenting the body of your essay most important point comes first, then move on to the less important point, thereafter lesser important, then, lastly the least important. All these points must be sequenced in strikingly beautiful manner. Never think that that the examiner who checks your answer sheet does not know the subject. He knows it too well. He wants to know what you know about it and how you present your ideas expressively. He examines how you express yourself and arrange your ideas and thoughts in sequence. And, the examiner alone knows how perfectly terrifying is the experience of reading ill-digested, half-bugged up, and hastily written up essays of many students.

            Then lastly comes the conclusion. And then finish it with an apt conclusion. Never be final in your judgment. For that none can do, not even the omniscient examiner! There is no finality in life, nor for that matter, in an essay. But there must be an ending as there is a beginning. And the concluding paragraph must sum up your views on the subject which you have discussed in the body of the essay between the first and the last paragraphs. This, in short, is the way to attempt a presentable essay of which the examiner will not be afraid to read. Have a sense of proportion but never be afraid of confining your essay within the number of words sought ie 3000 words. An essay should be an essay no matter even written in a half of the ibid number advised.

           More importantly, the approaching exam ahead is surely a challenging task not only to attempt successfully but getting group allocation of your choice which means a dream materialized at least at this point of age of your career building. The challenge contains stressful feeling of the weight of expectations from parents, relatives and friends. The only solution to get through these challenging exam days and overcoming these sources of stress lies in your confidence and belief in yourself that you have worked over your writing skill you have honed through your relentless practice.

            One more point and the most significant one I would like to end with here is another key that extensive reading should be complemented with practicing writing. Read the models of essays presented in various books. Read various genera, research papers, editorials and articles. They enable you cultivating wide acquaintance with vast variety of subjects. Try to keep always a notebook with you, and collect as many interesting ideas you come across in the course of your reading in general books, newspapers and journals. If you follow this method, you are sure to succeed in the writing of a good and readable essay. To give you future trajectory for your essay skill, it is admitted fact that no guidebook can produce a good essay writer. Anyone who practices relentlessly over a period of time can surely hone his writing skill, astonishing command over language and make an effective impression on the examiner.

 The writer is a former research and policy development officer of Nacta, Islamabad, Pakistan’s premier counterterrorism body; and presently posted in the government of Balochistan. He can be contacted at ullah.rehmat@hotmail.com

 

Source: http://balochistanvoices.com/2019/09/an-essay-upon-essay-the-art-of-essay-writing/