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ARTICLE: The federal cabinet has reported to have expressed its reservations on the presentation made by Dr Ishrat Husain, Prime Minister's Advisor on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, on factors impeding the process of attracting able professionals to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). The cabinet is reported to be of the view that there is nothing new in the proposals submitted by Ishrat Husain.

The said proposals by the advisor are in pursuance to a cabinet meeting of mid-May 2020, wherein the Prime Minister directed the adviser to indentify the factors impeding the process of attracting able professionals to public sector organisations and suggest amendments in relevant laws/rules/policy/instructions, in consultation with Minister for Law & Justice.

Some suggestions made by the adviser in this regard highlight the need for introducing some basic legal and administrative amendments in relevant laws and rules.

There are already enough laws and procedures available for the recruitment of professionals. This is not the real issue. The real issue is the absence of transparency and sincere intentions.

It has been learnt time and again that the much-publicised recruitment solicitation by the government to engage professionals is nothing but a façade to legitimize the already-selected cronies and political party loyalists. It is a ploy to mask incompetence. Able professionals have now well understood the game. They no longer fall for it. They are not willing to be tricked into believing something that is not true. New laws and procedures will not change the status quo.

Moreover, expecting something novel from the recommendations of the adviser is asking for a bit too much under the prevailing corruption-ridden system of state governance.

Something new will be dramatic or shocking which will not get through the prevailing bureaucratic structure of the country.

When Dr Manmohan Singh, noted economist par excellence, became the prime minister of India was given a core task by the Congress leadership. He was asked to turn around the stagnating economy of India.

Realizing the fact that overhauling the entire system will not be possible, he, therefore, restricted his action to the following: move governance of businesses in public and private sector out from bureaucratic yoke to free market dynamics of competition where the winner is the one who comes out best in price and quality. Further, he shifted the onus of business governance, profitability/loss, risks and liabilities on to the private entrepreneurs.

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were established all over the country and new laws to facilitate businesses in SEZs were passed by the legislators. Not only did system work the state economy also flourished.

The PTI government, if it means business, should wean all businesses in public and private sector away from the decades-old yoke of bureaucracy and move them to private sector to experience the market dynamics. Only will the competent ones sail through. The nation will certainly gain because almost all frontline and emerging economies of the world have already gained.

The drain of public money doled out in the shape of subsidies, duty drawbacks, bank loan write offs and similar concessions to favourites and elites at the expense of public welfare must end without any further loss of time.

(The writer is former President of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry)