May 23; PILDAT with the support of the Australian High commission’s Direct Aid Programme organized a virtual seminar session on Comparing Evolution of Federalism in Pakistan & Australia with a group of media and civil society representatives.
Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, presented key takeaways from the background paper written by Mr. Sartaj Aziz, public intellectual, former National Security Advisor and Former Federal Minister for Finance, Foreign Affairs and a Development Economist. Mr. Sartaj Aziz could not attend the session. In is recommendations, Mr. Sartaj Aziz believes that the call for revisiting 18th Amendment should be discouraged. Instead, capacity of the Provincial governments needs to be enhanced to deal with the devolved subjects of Education and Health. Duplication of efforts should be avoided between Federal and Provincial Governments in areas such as Health, Agriculture and Population Planning. Role of Federal Government should be increased in social protection, poverty reduction, higher education and health insurance by better utilisation of the CCI. In Water and Higher Education, mechanism of matching grants can be used by Federal Government to achieve accelerated progress. Federal Government must show leadership by evolving through consensus & approval of CCI a model Local Government law which should also set time limit of holding LG elections and efforts should be made to increase the federal tax revenues to 15% of the GDP.
Speaking on the Evolution of Fiscal Federalism in Australia Dr. Moeen Cheema, Associate Professor at the College of Law, Australian National University (ANU), briefly shared the history of federalism and constitutional formation in Australia. He said fiscal federalism is key to robust federalism. However, Australia is somewhat anomalous amongst developed democracies as its constitutional system has deeply entrenched federalism but has at the same time evolved a vertical fiscal imbalance that leads to comparatively much greater centralization of power and policymaking in the federal government or Commonwealth of Australia. As a developed economy, however, and the over-sized revenue generating capacity of the federal government, the fiscal imbalance is cushioned through Commonwealth’s generous unconditional and conditional grants to Australian States. Evolution of mechanisms of coordination between the Commonwealth and States through policymaking is also entrenched in practice that takes care of the centralization of power.
Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT welcomed the participants and provided a background for the discussion session in addition to moderating the session.
Members of Civil Society and Media who joined virtual discussion included Mr. Safdar Hussain, Director, Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP), Mr. Allauddin Khilji, Regional Director-Quetta, Aurat Foundation-Quetta, Mr. Ashfaq Mengal, Research Associate, Aurat Foundation-Quetta, Ms. Yasmeen Mughal, Research Associate, Aurat Foundation-Quetta, Ms. Fizza Kanwal, Programme Manager, SHADE-Women Organization, Mr. Farid Ahmed, Resident Director-Quetta, HRCP, Ms. Roha Naz, Research Associate, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), Islamabad, Mr. Aamir Riffat, Program Specialist, Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), Ms. Wajiha Najam, Research Associate, Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), , Ms. Shabana Ayaz, Resident Director-Peshawar, Aurat Foundation, Ms. Maryam Bibi, Chief Executive, Khawendo Kor, Mr. Asghar Khan, Director, Policy Research and Development (PRAND), Ms. Kalsoom Sadiq, Center for Social Justice, Mr. Suneel Malik, Manager Programs, Centre for Social Justice, Lahore, Mr. Karamat Ali, Executive Director, PILER, Mr. Asif Iqbal, Executive Director, Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC), Mrs. Naveed, Senior Economist, Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC), Dr Quratulain Bakhteari, President, Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP), Mr. Ahad Agha, Programme Officer, HRCP-Quetta, Mr. Javed Haleem, President, Pakistan Lawyers Foundation (PLF), Mr. Ghulam Murtaza, Director Programs, Pakistan Education Foundation (PEF), Mr. Junaid Azeem, Religuous Coordinator, Pakistan Education Foundation (PEF), Ms. Irsa Shafiq, Project Manager, Pakistan Education Foundation (PEF), Mr. Wahaj Bukhari, Implementation Associate, Pakistan Education Foundation (PEF), Mr. Muneeb ul Rehman, Program and Administration Support, Pakistan Education Foundation (PEF), Mr. Haseeb Iqbal, Project Manager, Pakistan Education Foundation (PEF), Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director, CPDI-islamabad, Mr. Mazhar Abbas, Senior Journalist, Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Senior Journalist, Mr. Habib Akram, Anchor & Analyst and Ms. Mehmal Sarfraz, Journalist.