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Monday, May 25, 2009

Institutionalising Financial Transparency? Dr Sania Nishtar

Sania has written about an issue that should be of concern to all of us. This "First, it must be recognised that accountability as an aspect of governance is central to problems in the public and private worlds" is the most important element.

As a first step an easily identifiable and verifiable money trail should be implemented to establish financial transparency . Any public or private organisation that pays bills (electricity, telephone, utilities, wages etc.) should be required to maintain verifiable records of monies received and dispensed. This should be extended to cover all public and private organisations including mosques, madresahs, dargahs as well as charitable and nor for profit NGOs. The government and private industries are already required by various laws. Strict and impartial adherence to financial transparency would renew faith in government and in each other. That is where we fail miserably. ~~t

The Holders of Public Offices (Accountability) Act 2009, which currently exists as a bill and is to be introduced in the National Assembly, will perhaps be one of the most vital instruments of governance in Pakistan over the coming years; its connotations and covenants defining responsibility for decisions and actions.

Given its importance, the relative lack of informed and constructive debate on the subject in civil society and political and analytical circles is indicative of a deep-seated phenomenon in the country’s societal political culture — we tend to engage in trivialities of governance and remonstrate when the manifestations of poor governance are apparent, but when it comes to substantive structural issues, there is somehow limited proactive engagement to shape governance norms. This comment underscores the importance of seven points in relation to the proposed statue with the hope that the nation will pay greater attention to this subject.


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