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PML-N Manifesto Scorecard: Myth Versus Reality

IRSHAD SALIM (May 19, 2018) — The ruling party PML-N’s election manifesto publicly announced in 2013 for the center and the provinces — mainly Punjab, its electoral stronghold — reveal not a very promising food on the table for the entire nation.

Sharifs’ party ruled at the center during the last five years (2013-2018) and have been ruling in Punjab for a decade now.

The most recent op-ed by Dr. Farrukh Saleem, a renowned economic data professional and analyst, presents his insight into the ruling party’s election manifesto punctuated with his Ayes and Nays. I assigned value to each based on these assumptions:

Those Ayes which impacted the most positively in my opinion, I assigned each of them a “+1” value. Those which did not in my opinion impact either way, were each given a “0” score by me. And those which I thought impacted negatively were tagged a “-1” number.

Summing up my numerical evaluation of these 20 major promises made by PML-N, the score stands as follows: 4 “+1”; 9 “0”; and 7 “-1”.

The aggregate total score of these manifesto items as evaluated comes to be “-3” (minus three) on a scale of 20, albeit negative impact.

However, a more realistic scoring based on weighted average of each promise made and its fulfillment or non-fulfillment with its least or maximum impact on the country’s GDP growth, Investment Climate, Security, Human Development Index (HDI), etc. would yield a more realistic number and could very well push the score much on the positive side.

These numbers wont’ mean anything in my opinion, if the voters level of awareness, education, and most importantly the quantum of their “feel good factor” for any party or party-head they like, be they because of personality cult or campaign manipulation or both, are skewed — and it could be for any one or many reasons for them to vote for the party they like regardless of how the “incumbency factor” turns out to be.

In such a situation, the voters’ Ayes and Nays would mean everything– it would add though more salt to grim-reapers’ wounds, but will provide “red bull” drinks to the happy-campers — and these voters, like it or not, hold the sway in our country specially in Punjab.

So while we can keep being the number cruncher or the bean counter, the guy on the street matters in the final analysis. Myths become reality and the vice versa could even happen.

Here’s the Op-Ed below I based my observations and inferences upon — a second look –after I did a similar one in 2014 (published in the Saudi Gazette), — and at that gave a high number to PML-N on its first anniversary of rule. A lot of water since then has flowed under the bridge and over the dam though.

[[“DR. FARRUKH SALEEM — Manifesto promise 1: To bring down transmission & distribution (T&D) losses to 10 percent. Fact: According to a presentation given by the managing director of the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) to the Public Accounts Committee: “The line losses of the Sukkur Electric Supply Company are 37.9 percent, followed by 32.6 percent of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company and 30.6 percent of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company.” Fact: In early 2018, annual power sector losses had reached a colossal Rs360 billion. (-1)

Manifesto promise 2: “We will completely resolve the issue of circular debt; permanent elimination of circular debt.” Fact: According to Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, federal secretary for the Ministry of Water and Power, the total amount of circular debt now stands at a colossal Rs1 trillion. (-1)

Manifesto promise 3: To stop political interference in state-owned enterprises (SOEs). (-1)

Manifesto promise 4: To appoint independent professional chief executive officers at SOEs. Fact: In 2013, PIA’s accumulated losses stood at Rs192 billion. Over the past five years, PIA’s accumulated losses have gone up to Rs360 billion. Fact: Collectively, SOEs have lost Rs3.7 trillion over the past five years. (-1)

Manifesto promise 5: To depoliticize police. Fact: Nothing done. (-1)

Manifesto promise 6: National education emergency will be declared. Fact: Nothing done. (-1)

Manifesto promise 7: To substantially increase the number of judges. Fact: Nothing done.(0)

Manifesto promise 8: To revise the Pakistan Penal Code. Fact: Nothing done.(0)

Manifesto promise 9: To computerize court records. Fact: Nothing done.(0)

Manifesto promise 10: To dramatically reduce the time spent in litigation. Fact: Nothing done. (0)

Manifesto promise 11: To ensure accountability of all major development projects. Facts: In the last six months of the PML-N government, the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) are trying to deliver on that promise.(0)

Manifesto promise 12: To establish an autonomous NAB. Fact: In the last six months of the PML-N government, the National Accountability Bureau is trying to deliver on that promise. (0)

Manifesto promise 13: To strengthen the role of the ombudsman. Fact: Nothing done.(0)

Manifesto promise 14: To create a Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. Fact: Nothing done.(0)

Manifesto promise 15: To increase tax-to-GDP ratio to 15 percent. Fact: In 2018, as per the estimates based on the collection by the Federal Board of Revenue, the tax-to-GDP ratio stands at 11.2 percent, which is an improvement over the previous year but misses the target by a wholesome 3.8 percentage points. Partial fulfillment. (+1)

Manifesto promise 16: To extend land record computerization to all provinces. Fact: Not done (I think it is more of a provincial responsibility).(0)

Manifesto promise 17: To establish a merit-based system. Fact: Nothing done.(-1)

Manifesto promise 18: New laws to replace the 2002 local bodies system. Fact: Promise fulfilled.(+1)

Manifesto promise 19: To hold local government elections in six months. Fact: Let us say, promise fulfilled.(+1)

Manifesto promise 20: Expeditious setting up of coal and LNG import terminals, and coal transportation facilities. Promise fulfilled. (+1)

P S: All manifesto promises have been extracted from the PML-N’s election manifesto that was released on March 7, 2013.”]]

 

(The writer, a business consultant and analyst, is Group Editor of PKonweb.com and DesPardes.com – His articles also appear in Jeddah-based Al-Bilad English Daily and UAE-based Caravan Daily)

 






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