Friday, 4 July 2014

Good Governance, Transparency and Accountability

Good Governance is always based on transparency and accountability mechanisms inducted in public administration. Good governance is not possible without transparency and accountability; similarly transparency and accountability are not possible without government's intent for good governance.  In other words, transparency and accountability institutions adopted by the government must be reflective of the government’s intent to provide good governance.

Two main institutions adopted by Punjab government to ensure transparency and accountability in public administration are Anti-Corruption Establishment and Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA). Two main conditions to enable transparency and accountability institutions to work effectively are proper legal framework and staffing by suitable officers/officials.

 As transparency and accountability institutions are to be designed to put an effective check on corrupt practices which may possibly be crept in body of public administration, ACE Punjab and PPRA have to have such legal framework which may enable them to work independently of other public administrative authorities. The governing rules of ACE have been amended recently, which lend ACE comparatively more freedom of working but still ACE is not free enough to work independently of other government authorities. In order to lend more autonomy to ACE, it may be placed under a  governing board which may be independent of other governmental authorities and may enable ACE to function independently of other government authorities. 

The present DG ACE enjoys reputation of an honest officer and is able to staff ACE with honest and capable officers/officials. In short, if ACE is provided with proper legal framework ensuring autonomy to this institution, and if ACE is staffed with honest and capable officers/officials, this institution may become reflective of government’s intent to provide good governance.

Similarly PPRA’ governing board may be as much independent of other government authorities as possible.  PPRA may also be given some punitive powers to restrain potential violators of Punjab Procurement Rules. The present rules provide penalty for violating contractors but no effective punitive measures have been inducted in the rules for restraining potential official violators of the rules.
But giving PPRA more effective legal framework would be counter-productive, if PPRA is not staffed with honest and capable officers from MD to below. As PPRA has been designed to ensure transparency in public procurements, its officers/officials have to be known honest and efficient instead of known corrupt and inefficient officers/officials.

We may conclude transparency and accountability institutions are face of good or bad governance. The more such institutions are equipped with proper and independent legal framework, and staffed with honest and capable officers/officials, the more they would reflect the government’s intent for good governance. The more such institutions lack in autonomy of working and are staffed with corrupt and incapable officers/officials, the greater they would smack of lacking in government’s intention for good governance.

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