Showing posts from 2015

Design v. Implementation

At many conferences there is a refrain that “Research and inquiry is not necessary, we know it all. We need to act and not think.” Alternatively, “we know it all! The only problem is that no one will implement what we are suggesting.”
I found this very disturbing.
So I asked a few of these loud implementers "what is it that you want to implement?"
They point to some donor report. This raises a number of issues that need to be understood and discussed.
Do we assume that
•All donor recommendations are excellent and can be fully implemented off the shelf? •All donor consultants who completed those reports are of the best quality? •All donor consultants know all local conditions? •All solutions can be borrowed there is no local innovation possible? •There is no need for a domestic review, critique or discussion of this excellent work?
Let us count some donor successes for these people •Social Action Program which the Bank itself would like to forget •The foreign currency debacle that the b…

Should we have a Planning Commission?

Kh Asif with his caustic remark “if here had been a Planning commission then, Taj Mahal would not be built!’ I am glad that started a debate on this important issue and many people have written good articles on this subject. But first, let us tell Kh Asif that he is exactly right. Taj Mahal, an aging emperor’s whim should not have been built. Planning Commission was built to keep such whims in check. Recall Ayub Khan never interfered in Planning.    Go back to first principles. Democracy and our modern form of government believes in checks and balances in government. This means a) due diligence—research and evidence collection—for presentation to a decision-making forum and b) clear lines of responsibility between ministries to jealously look after their roles. If one ministry accumulates all power and decision-making then we go back to the days of an arbitrary Shah Jehan. Remember the world fought divine right of kings for centuries to develop democracy. The cabinet is a decision-making…

The New Auto Policy

Tim Cook CEO of Apple said on Monday this week “It would seem like there will be massive change in that (car) industry, massive change.” Most of the world is reflecting on this statement because of the importance of Apple as the world’s largest company as well as the technology leader. This statement has large ramifications for us too and we would all do well to think upon it. We are told that our policymakers are considering a new auto policy. Newspapers report that it is likely to be business as usual, rewarding our automakers with the large protection that they have received now for more than 40 years. For 40 long years we have struggled to create an auto industry giving our local assemblers a market where imports are made prohibitively expensive forcing consumers to buy what they produce. We all know about not only the kinds of cars we get but how they are sometimes bought at the infamous premium of the ‘on’ where you pay full cash in advance for delivery months later. In some yea…

Non-Filer Blues

Policy making in Pakistan is an amateur parlor game—everybody plays policy on TV, in drawing rooms and wherever they like and all without reading, investigating or learning about how the rest of the world makes policy. And let me hasten to add this is not just the current PMLN government—all governments in our history have done this.
Some powerful person in their tremendously busy VIP schedules picks up stray ideas. Bureaucrats beholden for their careers to the powerful people, rush to implement these suggestions. No time to think, investigate, understand—after all development must not wait for thought, debate and investigation. None of them even think that some of these ideas may be self-serving and perhaps a further investigation may be required. Nowhere is this more apparent than in tax policy.All of us live with new and crazier proposals every few weeks. Arbitrary taxes on energy, Internet, school fees, cars, houses, consumption, mobile phones, bank transactions, airplane ticket…