Hinting at structural reforms

Presiding over a meeting the KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan talked about the structural reforms to make the government departments fully functional, improve service delivery; tap new sources of revenue generation and exploiting full potential of mineral resources. Adherence to merit is the key to streamlining the functioning of government departments but unfortunately in the present PTI provincial government the symbolic feature of merit introduced by the previous government is fast eroding. Withdrawal of selection powers for the appointments on vacancies from BS-16 and above in health department is a gross violation of merit. In its previous tenure of government PTI leadership had ensured up to greater extent adherence to merit in the appointments of doctors through Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Public Service Commission but by granting appointment powers to Regional Health Authorities will certainly shatter the merit.

The revenue base of the province is limited as it generates hardly Rs. 70 billion against requirements of current and development expenditures of over Rs. 340 billion. In a seminar two months ago former Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr. Hafeez Pasha had drawn the attention of the provincial government to new sources of revenue generation in telecom sector and service industry.

As for exploiting full potential of mineral resources, previous provincial government had worked out and announced comprehensive mineral policy in 2016 but it could not be implemented in letter and spirit for various reasons. Mining is still done on primitive methods which results in the colossal waste of marble and other minerals whereas the mineral policy makes mandatory the application of modern technology for minerals   mines’ lease holders.

The most precious mineral wealth in the province is the reserves of gemstones including emerald, topaz, tourmaline and lapis lazuli. There is no state-of-the-art gem and gemological center for value addition of gemstones and consequently bulk of different types of gemstones are exported on throwaway price. The export of gemstones is stagnant at $100 million. Indian big and booming gemological industry is entirely dependent on imported raw gemstone from Afghanistan and the smuggled ones from Pakistan. But India exports value added gemstones and gemological products worth $4 billion to the international market. A gemological unit is going to be established in Rashakai special economic zone but until then the existing gem and gemological center at Peshawar should be rehabilitated and made functional.