SoDATA — Khan government seeks to ‘depoliticize’ development funds usage and minimize ‘lopsided’ development initiatives in select cities.
Speaking at the launch ceremony of Data4Pakistan. PRemier Khan said lopsided development in the past widened the gap between the country’s rich and the poor adding that development funds were distributed on the basis of people’s influence, and not on the basis of need.
“Development funds, instead of being distributed on the basis of need, went to those places controlled by [politicians] with the most influence”.
According to Radio Pakistan, the portal is aimed at providing the public with access to poverty estimates for every district along with development and policy indicators.
“This initiative is crucial, because it gives us an opportunity to inform the people where exactly funds are needed. Why is there a need to spend money, what is the state of education in that area, and why are our girls not enrolled in schools, all of these questions and more can be answered [through this initiative]”.
The portal has been developed in collaboration with the World Bank.
The premier maintained that in addition to helping identify the areas which need development funds, the portal will also give statistics about the issues being faced by locals.
Experts say the initiative if run efficiently could bring enough data and indicators on the decision table to help formalize happy medium between public policy and trade offs every time issues arise in development programs.
These programs have taken a back seat as the government focuses on austerity and paying high markup on debt — nearly 76 percent of federal net revenues on the average go toward markup payments.
The portal will help in policy-making as well as in allocating the budget, the report quoted him as saying.
Given the narrow margin left for other expenses, data mining, aggregation and analyses from grassroots above will help ease prioritization homework for development initiatives, experts say.
Khan takes a swipe at previous governments in Punjab
Highlighting the “disparity” between Lahore’s development and that of the rest of Punjab, Khan said, “”All of Punjab’s development budget was being spent on Lahore. Lahore was developing, but the cities surrounding the metropolis were cannibalizing, regressing.
“Poorer areas were going backwards, while a select few areas were being developed,” he said.
“Firstly, all of the people go to that one developed city seeking employment opportunities, putting a burden on existing facilities. Further, facilities such as health and investment remain limited to a small area”.
Khan said, “The current Punjab chief minister hails from a very poor area in the province. When he started spending money in his area, in Dera Ghazi Khan, there was a lot of uproar. “However, when you go over the data you will realize that more money needs to be spent in DG Khan,” he said.