Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reforms needed to avail benefits of fiscal devolution, says CM Balochistan

Mehtab Haider

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 

ISLAMABAD: Reforms and changes in the laws and rules of business are a necessary step to fully deliver the benefits of the fiscal devolution under the 18th amendment, said chief minister Balochistan Dr. Mohammad Malik while addressing the concluding session of the two-day Balochistan Development Forum organised by the Chief Minister Policy Reform Unit here on Tuesday.

He said the core objective of the forum was to share development priorities of the Balochistan coalition government that aim to address critical sectors of Balochistan’s economy and society. He said that Balochistan needed a three-pronged strategy for inclusive development of the province, which included institutional development, infrastructure development and human resource development.

He said that Article 172(3) which empowered provinces to have a joint and equal ownership and control of natural resources, if followed in its true sense by amending relevant laws, will not only help Balochistan overcome its historical deprivation in development but will also take it to the level where it can provide resources for the development of rest of Pakistan.

He also promised that institutional reform in the province by restructuring Public Services Commission to ensure merit based recruitment through credible and transparent processes will ensure efficient governance in the province.

He urged that political and bureaucratic decision makers of Balochistan have to make a commitment that we would root our poverty and under-development from Balochistan and would never have to say again that ours is a poor province.

He also urged the international community to share their technical knowledge and expertise besides investment into social sectors through coordinated efforts.He thanked the participants of the forum for their commitment to the development of Balohcistan and their valuable inputs in the form of data based analysis, strategies and recommendations.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz while speaking on the occasion said that he would propose that each district in Pakistan should have a planning unit on the model developed by Chief Minister’s Policy Reform Unit with the technical assistance of UNDP.

He also supported the idea that Balochistan Higher Education Authority should be established so that education needs can be assessed and addressed at the local levels. He also expressed hope that the issues related to Rikodeq will be resolved soon since he believed that the area can be a game changer for the development of Pakistan.

Earlier in the day during the technical working sessions experts and political leaders discussed various aspects of the development agenda for the province. Senator Hasil Bizenjo while addressing the session on “Post-18th amendment challenges and opportunities” that he co-chaired with Mr. Abu Rahim Zairatwal said it must be appreciated that the 18th amendment started addressing the historical wrongs committed with the federating units.

Mr. Ziaratwal pointed out that the current law and order situation is also a by-product of the economic conditions in the province.Earlier Dr. Ishaq Baloch, coordinator of Policy Reform Unit shared his views on how 18th amendment had caused significant changes in the legislative, governance and political structures of the federation and how this can lead to increased harmony amongst the federating units.

The session on the natural resource management attracted lot of attention as two critical issues - Gawadar Port and Riqodek - were discussed in the session chaired by Dr. Ruqayya Hashmi and Mir Khalid Langu, advisor finance.

Chairman Gawadar Development Authority Dr. Sajjad Baloch shared the vision of the Authority for this strategic port. He said that the port can become the Asian energy hub for receipt, storage, processing and transshipment to S.E Asia, Far East and even to U.S. He also shared how under Pakistan-China economic cooperation various road and rail links were being planned to connect the port to other cities and also how important the Kashgar to Khunjerab and Gawadar corridor will be for the province.

Ahmer Bilal Sufi legal advisor to the government of Balochistan for international arbitration on Rikodeq informed the audience that the proceedings so far in the International Court of Justice have opened up the possibility that GoB and Tythean Cooper Company can settle the issue out of the court and get the assets of the GoB released for further development.

Mr Donald Macintosh, technical adviser, IUCN, said that while exploiting natural resources special care should be taken not to disturb habitats and species, forests, rangelands, coastal ecosystems, wildlife, biodiversity and protected areas ecosystems.

Mr. Amir Goraya, assistant country director UNDP while addressing the concluding session proposed that GoB should take lead in building institutional framework for coordination and harmonisation of aid and development activities in the province.Mr. Rached ben Masoud, country representative, World Bank, said that the forum will help the development partners to align their priorities and focus for the province in the light of decision making by the Government of Balochistan.

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