Federal budget ignores education and health sectors

ISLAMABAD: Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) reacts to federal budget 2019-20 with concern as development allocations for education and health sectors decrease while ambitious tax targets and multi folds increase for climate change and water resources seem tough to achieve.

The volume of Federal Development Budget 2019-20 is RS949896 million. The share of education sector for the year is set at RS33780 million which is far less than the previous year allocation of RS42766 million. Similarly, the Health Sector development allocation in the federal budget has also declined as compared to the last year. The government has earmarked RS12671 million for development is health sector while the allocation in last year’s budget was RS29999 million. It is also distressing to note that that the government failed to implement 2018-19 allocations by huge margin.

Hence these sectors are not only ignored for the coming fiscal year but were also overlooked in the current fiscal year. Ignoring two most important sectors of Education and Health is of grave concern to CPDI.

Pakistan is among top ten “most vulnerable to the climate change” countries but government’s development allocations to combat climate change have not been adequate in the past. However, for fiscal year 2019-20 a sum of RS7579 million has been earmarked for development expenditures in the sector. This allocation is 0.79% of the total estimated development budget and 9 times higher than the last year’s allocation. Higher allocation to face the challenge of climate change is a great sign but at the same time it alarms concerns as the analysis of historic budget data since 2013-14 reveals that the government has never been able to disburse even 0.1% of the total development budget on this sector. This huge allocation will be a challenge for the ministry’s ability to disburse resource and carry out large projects. These details were provided by CPDI’s Senior Programme Manager Raja Shoaib Akbar in a statement issued to media. He further said that the water and power sector was split into two separate divisions during fiscal year 2017-18. The purpose was obvious, better planning and development in both very important sectors. This arrangement seems to have positive outcome for water management division; the budget allocation of RS85021 million for the sector in year 2019-20 is encouraging as was in the year 2018-19 when RS79000 million (6.86% share in development budget) was allocated. But a look at the revised estimates of year 2018-19 reveals that this large allocation was actually reduced to mere RS3789.5 million. This situation is cause of great concern for CPDI. Huge allocations and then drastic declines at the end of the year point out negative trends and misplaced priorities.

Water management is need of the hour, better allocations are a welcomed step, the government must be careful in execution of these resources and make sure that low capacity of the ministry and traditional shift of priorities does not hamper the huge allocation this time.

The target for Tax Revenue Receipts for year 2019-20 has been set at RS5822160 million. This is encouraging but at the same time highly ambitious. The analysis of historical budget data since 2013-14 by CPDI shows that targets of Tax Revenue Receipts in all these years could not be achieved except in year 2015-16. The target for year 2018-19 was RS4888645 million which could not be met hence revised to a lower level of RS4393876 million at the end of the year.

Keeping in view the data trends new target of RS5822160 million seems tough and extremely demanding. In this scenario, to achieve the Tax Revenue targets for the year 2019-20, CPDI urges the government to reform and strengthen the FBR and also expand the tax base instead of overburdening the already existing taxpayers.

Published in The News

CPDI stressed effective legislation on RTI law in Balochistan

QUETTA:  Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has urged the Balochistan government to make amendments in RTI act, 2005 in the light of international best practices.The amendments shall aim to promote transparency, openness and maximum disclosure of information; like RTI laws applicable in KP, Punjab and Sindh. Provincial cabinet of Balochistan has formed a committee to discuss proposed amendments in RTI Act, 2005.

Mr. Amer Ejaz, Executive Director CPDI said that KP, Punjab, Sindh and federal government has repealed weak RTI laws and replaced it with progressive RTI laws. The Government of Balochistan should now follow the suit and expedite legislation of effective RTI law. Citizens and journalists face innumerable problems in having access to government held information related to public matters. He added that Balochistan FOIA 2005 is not effective and doesn’t provide legitimate access to information held by public bodies.

Currently, Balochistan has the weakest RTI law in Pakistan because it has many flaws e.g. scope is restrictive, process of getting information under RTI is neither free nor easy, list of exempted information is longer than the disclose able information. Most importantly, citizens of Balochistan do not have an independent appellate forum like Punjab Information Commission and KP RTI Commission.  He further said that RTI Law is an instrument of change for bringing much needed transparency and accountability in the provincial governmental sphere.

Published in Balochistan Express

 

CPDI stressed effective legislation on RTI law in Balochistan

QUETTA:  Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has urged the Balochistan government to make amendments in RTI act, 2005 in the light of international best practices. The amendments shall aim to promote transparency, openness and maximum disclosure of information; like RTI laws applicable in KP, Punjab and Sindh. Provincial cabinet of Balochistan has formed a committee to discuss proposed amendments in RTI Act, 2005.

 Mr. Amer Ejaz, Executive Director CPDI said that KP, Punjab, Sindh and federal government has repealed weak RTI laws and replaced it with progressive RTI laws. The Government of Balochistan should now follow the suit and expedite legislation of effective RTI law. Citizens and journalists face innumerable problems in having access to government held information related to public matters. He added that Balochistan FOIA 2005 is not effective and doesn’t provide legitimate access to information held by public bodies.

 Currently, Balochistan has the weakest RTI law in Pakistan because it has many flaws e.g. scope is restrictive, process of getting information under RTI is neither free nor easy, list of exempted information is longer than the disclose able information. Most importantly, citizens of Balochistan do not have an independent appellate forum like Punjab Information Commission and KP RTI Commission.  He further said that RTI Law is an instrument of change for bringing much needed transparency and accountability in the provincial governmental sphere.

Published in The Balochistan Point

4th Open Government Partnership deadline missed

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has missed the fourth deadline given by the Open Government Partnership to submit a National Action Plan (NAP) on fiscal transparency, access to information, asset disclosures and citizen engagement.

After missing three deadlines, the government on August 31 missed the fourth deadline for formally presenting the NAP for implementation up to June 30, 2020.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative launched in 2011 which brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans to make governments more inclusive, responsive and accountable.

Pakistan joined the OGP in December 2016 on the direction of the former finance Minister, Ishaq Dar. Pakistan committed to adhere to four key principles: Fiscal transparency, access to information, asset disclosures and citizen engagement.

To date, the OGP has more than 70 member countries, including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Ghana. The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), a civil society organization which maintains an ‘OGP Watch Desk’, said that Pakistan has missed all the deadlines set by the OGP to submit the NAP.

The Economic Affairs Division held multiple consultative sessions to draft the NAP and a formal meeting of a multi-stakeholder forum was held in October 2017. On January 18, the OGP secretariat penned a letter to Miftah Ismail, the then advisor to the Prime Minister for finance, saying it had not received a NAP from the Government of Pakistan by the end of 2017. It informed Islamabad that Pakistan had been shifted from the odd-numbered year grouping of OGP member countries to the even-numbered year grouping scheduled to submit plans in 2018, 2020 and so on.

“Our government eagerly joined the OGP in 2016 but couldn’t do much on the path of co-creating the NAP except missing the back-to-back deadlines. Civil society organizations have been advocating for the cause but nothing substantial can be achieved till the government gets to grips with the issue,” said Amer Ejaz, Executive Director of the CPDI.

Afghanistan joined the OGP in 2017, submitted a NAP on time and is now in the process of implementation. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has claimed it would bring an end to corruption, and bring about transparency and openness in government affairs, Amer said. The OGP upholds similar values for its member countries, he said.

He asked Finance Minister Asad Umar to immediately look in to the causes of the repeated delays and establish contact with the OGP support unit regarding the submission of the NAP.

An Analysis of Women Participation in By-Election NA-154 (Lodhran-I)

 

 

An Analysis of Women Participation in By-Election NA-154 (Lodhran-I)

This report is published by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) to bring forth different trends of women participation in the electoral process and factors hinder-ing or encouraging it during by-elections of NA-154 (Lodhran-I) held on February 12, 2018. This analysis is generated on a sample size of 50 polling stations. The sample was drawn using systematic random sampling method to select 15% of total polling stations.

The total number of registered voters in the constituency is 4,31,002, with 2,36,496 (54.9%) male voters and 194506 (45.1%) female voters. To accommodate these voters, an equal number of 49 polling stations for men and women have been set up in addition to 240 combined polling stations in the constituency. These polling stations consist of total 1043 polling booths including 566 for men and 477 for women.

The data collected on election day shows that mostly same-gender staff is deployed at the polling booths. The CPDI team observed that all booths set up for female voters at combined and female polling stations had women as assistant presiding officers and polling officers.

A dominance of men as presiding officers was observed on male and combined polling stations. At female polling stations all the polling staff was female. Moreover, at all 32 sampled combined polling stations had men as their presiding officer. This shows women are not often the first choice for top positions.

In terms of women participation as party polling agents, PTI had largest number of polling agents at female sampled polling booths with presence at 75% booths, while PML (N) polling agents covered 60% female sampled polling booths. PPPP polling agents were present at only 14% sampled female booths.

A lower turn out of women was observed in comparison to men. On an average 22 wom-en voters voted in an hour on a sampled female polling booth as compared to 27 men on the male booth. This lower turn out of women was noticed despite ECP’s effort to mobi-lize women voters and the provisions of section 12 (C) of Elections Act 2017.

The CPDI teams interviewed female voters on sampled polling stations on election day to collect more data about women participation. Women from the age group 23 to 35 years participated heavily (43%) while participation of age group 18 to 22 years was low (8%). Moreover 36% of the women voters belong to the age group of 36 to 50 years. It appears that middle age women especially married are encouraged to participate in electoral ac-tivities but younger women are discouraged and it is considered unnecessary exposure for them. This data also signifies the need to focus and pay more attention to women youth as their low participation in electoral process may also be reflecting their lack of interest in political engagement.

The interview data further sheds light on relation between marital status and occupa-tions of women and their turn out. The data reveals that 58% of women appearing to vote were Housewife, 12%were unemployed, 8% were doing government or private job and 7 % were students. This data reflects that majority of the women voters in the sam-ple were housewives.

The CPDI interviewers also asked about educational background of women voters; 14% out of them were matric, 25% were below matric but literate, 38% were illiterate and 22% were graduates or above.

It was observed that women turnout was the highest during 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm when per booth ratio remained 23 voters per hour. It appears that this is the time when women get free from their household responsibilities and feel their daily routine would not be disturbed by leaving home during this time.

During the rush hours polling staff was unable to provide special assistance to older women, expecting mothers and mothers of infants. From 42% of sampled polling sta-tions, there were no reports of preferential treatment being given to expecting mothers. In 39% polling stations CPDI observers said no preferential treatment was giving to old age women. Mothers carrying young children were further neglected in this category and observers from 46% polling stations reported that no preferential treatment was given to them either.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI

Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Election Observation Report (Counting Process) NA-154 (Lodhran-I)

 

 

Election Observation Report (Counting Process) NA-154 (Lodhran-I)

 

Monday (February 12, 2018)

This report is issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) for observing the counting process at NA-154 (Lodhran-I). Total number of Registered voters in the constituency is 4,31,002 including 2,36,496 male voters and 1,94,506 female voters. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 338 with 1043 polling booths, 566 for male voters and 477 for female voters.

The official closing time of the polling is 5pm. The CED teams made sure to enter the sampled polling stations before the closure of voting process. However, at the Polling Station #55 Govt. Girls Primary School, Chak No. 97/M (Male), at polling station # 31 Govt. Boys High School, (Male) and at polling station # 253 Basic Health Unit, Galay wal at Sagwan (Comb) security officials didn’t allow the observers to enter the polling stations and observe the counting process. The observers remained outside the polling stations till the end of the counting process and received copy of polling station result count i.e. form 45 from the presiding officers.

The observers reported that 100 % of the observed polling stations closed on time. The polling staff started the closing process immediately and the counting started within 10 minutes of the closing at average. The voters waiting to vote inside the polling station were allowed to vote.

At 100% of the sampled polling stations the observers reported that the staff counted the number of issued ballot papers while closing the polling. At same percent of sampled polling stations the staff recorded the number of issued ballot papers in ECP forms. While staff at 100% polling stations counted and record the number of un-used ballot papers immediately after start of closing process. Teams of observers reported that at 33% of the polling stations seal of the ballot box was not properly intact when it was brought to table for counting process. Observers reported from 100% polling stations that the polling staff cross checked the number of ballots cast against the number of signatures on the counterfoil I.e. issued ballot papers. Observers reported that that at 11% of the polling stations the polling staff did not perform the crosschecks of the data for mathematical consistency. Observers reported that at 22% of the polling stations that counting process was seriously hampered by overcrowding.

Team of observers reported that at 100% polling stations presiding officer got signature of senior assistant presiding officer and polling agents on result of the count and ballot paper account while at 77% polling stations presiding officer got signature of observers on the result of the count and ballot paper account.

Team of observers reported that at 11 % of sampled polling stations the presiding officers did not paste the result outside the polling station for the public. At100 % of sampled polling stations the presiding officers gave copies of the result (form 45) to the poling agents. The observers reported that at 45% polling stations the ballot paper account was not posted outside the polling station.

The observers noted that during counting process no formal complaint was lodged at polling stations. The polling staff cooperated with the CED observers during the counting process. All the observers were allowed to sit in the counting room without any restriction except for three polling station already mentioned above. The presiding officers of all the sampled polling stations answered all questions related to counting process and shared details of the vote count with observers.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI

Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Election Observation Report (Voting Process) NA-154 (Lodhran-I)

 

 

Election Observation Report (Voting Process) NA-154 (Lodhran-I)

 

Monday (February 12, 2018)

This report is issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) for observing voting process in NA-154 (Lodhran-I) by-election. Total number of Registered voters in the constituency is 4,31,002 including 2,36,496 male voters and 1,94,506 female voters. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 338 with 1043 polling booths, 566 for male voters and 477 for female voters.

The CED teams initiated observation of the voting process right from the opening of the polling sta-tions. Polling staff was present at all the sampled polling stations observed during the day. The vot-ers’ enthusiasm geared up as the day progressed and queues of voters were seen outside 38% poll-ing stations. This number was reasonably low in early morning observation. The average voter turn-out per booth per hour was 25.53 during the day. This average remained 26.59 for male voters and 22.72 for female voters. The observers submitted their reports of voting process until 4:55 PM so that they could enter the polling stations again for observation of the closing and counting process.

Observers reported election code violations from vicinity of 19% of the sampled polling stations. Of these 19% polling stations, at 78% voter transportation and voter ‘parchi’ issuance was reported by the observers, 44% of these polling stations had party camps within 400 yards while campaign mate-rial and campaign activity were seen at 44% and 33% of these polling stations respectively.

Inside the polling stations observers noted that the layout of the voting area was adequate for con-duct of polling at 90% sampled polling stations and sufficiently protected secrecy of ballot at 98% sampled polling station. Moreover, 94% of the observers stated that the layout of the voting area was suitable to voters with reduced mobility.

Presence of unauthorized persons inside polling stations was also reported by the observers at some places for instance at PS#139 a party official was seen inside the polling station. The observer re-ported that polling staff did not ask the party official to leave the venue.

About transparency and facilitation of the observes at the polling stations, CED observers reported obstruction by security officials from 10% of the sampled polling stations during the voting process. Surprisingly at PS#133 all polling agents along with observers were made to sit out of the polling room instead of being able to witness the proceedings. The polling stations where ECP’s accredited CED observers were unable to get in or gather information of voting process due to restrictions by security forces include PS#31, PS#49, PS#55, PS#133, PS#145, PS#253. These incidents not only un-dermine the authority of the ECP staff at the polling station but also raise questions about transpar-ency of procedure. The situation warrants corrective measures by the ECP including proper election processes orientation of the security staff being deployed on the polling stations.

The observers reported that 19% of sampled polling stations were overcrowded while at 7% unrest among the party polling agents was observed. At 16% sampled polling stations the observers sighted party campaign material and at 11% party campaign activity inside the building. Overall on an aver-age 1.3 discrepancies were reported from each sampled polling station during the voting process.

The observers also reported about presence of party polling agents during the day. PML (N) had presence of polling agents at 73% male sampled polling booths and 61% female polling booths. PTI had its polling agents present at 73% male polling booths and 75% female polling booths. The PPPP remained behind and it only had it presence at 25% male booths and 14% female booths during the voting process.

No major law and order situation was witnessed at the sampled polling stations during the CED ob-servation. The security situation generally remained in control of the law enforcement agencies. This tight control started affecting the observation process more as closing time approached. The ob-servers reported from various locations that the security personal asked them to leave the polling stations as soon as the polling time ends, implying that they would not be able to observe counting process at these polling stations.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI

Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Exit Polls in NA-154 (Lodhran-I) By-Elections results shows that both PTI and PMLN Running Neck and Neck

 

 

Exit Polls in NA-154 (Lodhran-I) By-Elections results shows that both PTI and PMLN Running Neck and Neck

 

Monday (February 12, 2018)

The exit poll exercise conducted by the Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) in bye-elections of National Assembly Constituency NA-154 indicates that both principal parties running neck and neck. PTI candidate bagged 46.74% votes as against 45.55% votes bagged by PMLN candidate. The survey was conducted on a sample size of 1427 voters; including 917 males, 510 females. The responses were collected from 17% of sampled polling stations. Total number of Registered voters in the constituency is 4,31,002 including 2,36,496 male voters and 1,94,506 female voters. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 338 with 1043 polling booths, 566 for male voters and 477 for female voters. This report presents the responses from the votes from sampled polling stations taken throughout the day. PPPP continued its dismal performance in the Punjab by claiming only 3.71% of the polled votes.

The analysis of exit poll data shows some interesting trends. The gender breakdown of the exit poll result shows that PMLN candidate attracted more males than females. PMLN vote mix contain 70% of male votes as against 30% of the female votes. For PTI, male-female ratio remained 58% to 42%.

The voting activity also has clear connection with educational qualifications of the voters. PMLN is a clear choice for 3 bottom educational groups that include illiterate, primary and matric. As the educational qualification increases, the voter base of PTI also increases. PTI enjoys majority among voters with educational qualification as Graduate, Masters and M.Phil/PhD.

The connection between age group and vote choice remained consistent with the past trends. PTI remained clear choice of younger voters. PTI enjoys a clear lead among voters from age group 18-22 and 23-35. As the voter grows in age, PMLN starts impressing them. PMLN is a clear favorite for the age groups 35-50, 51-65 and 65+.

The voter choice from different professional groups also remained consistent with the traditional trends. PTI enjoys popularity among students, housewives, government and private jobs groups. PMLN has majority among unemployed, daily wagers, industry workers, and self-employed groups.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI

Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33