Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Democratic Masters of Incompetence

Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few. George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950).

Historically, Pakistan suffers from the uneducated populace that has habitually shown nothing much beyond submissiveness during the previous elections; this kills the level playing field right there.
Secondly, wrong candidates tend to play dirty politics; curse of stealing the “public mandate” including ballot stuffing and other types of rigging being among the most painful wrongs. Naturally, the nation ends up with repercussions in the form of lost merit, disrespecting rule of law and the constitution. Most of the time, the judiciary is blamed for their “slow paced deliverance of justice.” despite the existing malfunctioning system.

Previously, the  ruling PPP (Pakistan people party)under the co chairmanship of president Asif Zardari, could not offer other than a sub standard governance that continued with its inherent ‘chronic sufferance’ from the worst administrative paralysis.

Unfortunately, the current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was on tour abroad along with finance minister, and no one knew what to do with petrol crisis. Ironically, the cabinet ministers were seen bashing their own government. The painful scenario is the federal government delayed actions to address the worst petrol crisis leaving the consumers unattended. This shows the worst manifest of bad governance.

Despite the delivery failures, the PPP luckily managed to fully enjoy the five long years of inefficiency and national loot. On the other hand, the N league is in the driver’s seat with no sense of direction whatsoever.

Since the Nawaz regime is prematurely on the ventilator, it does not seem to continue running the show for the full term. The reason is simple: It’s generally assumed that even the most incompetent is not too incompetent to see the country running out of fuel.

The reliable sources point fingers towards the government as it is part of the circular debt. Why is it unable to pay its dues? What did stop the ministry of finance to have ensured collection of needed funds ahead of time to keep them available?
Actually, the government doesn’t have“know-how” or a “workable strategy” in place to eliminate the circular debt once and for all.
It is certainly true that PSO (Pakistan State Oil) should have realised that its continual default on payment would have a negative impact on its credit lines, however, its precarious financial condition is partly the fault of the past and the current governments. Hence, total blame shifting to PSO is just an attempt to get off the hook.

Sadly, the consumers have been running around back and forth for a week or so in search of petrol but all in vain. Other scenario is waiting time for gas and electricity’s load shedding has also been increased adding to the existing stubborn misery.
No electricity-no gas-no petrol, maybe the next one will be “no breathing.”

All over the World, price of oil is at its lowest point in years, but the Pakistanis have to wait in mile-long line ups – isn’t that shameful! God forbid! looming fear is furnace oil stocks with the power companies are running out. If the government doesn’t have a clue how to handle fuel crisis, then the political, economic and security issues are a way more complicated issues.
The sequence of events that led up to the shortages is quite obvious by now, and it is disingenuous on the finance minister’s part to try and shrug off responsibility.
It is hard to understand as to why the so called democratic prime minister and finance minister prefer to keep all power in their own hands. When they are out of country, there is no appropriate action to solve the emerging issue in their absence. Furthermore, as a large part of the crisis grows up because of the funding requirements of PSO, credit lines are affected adversely due to defaults in payments of furnace oil imports, yet no explanation comes from the finance ministry.

Beyond doubt, managing the oil supply chain is tricky business and technical in nature; this requires advance planning because limited storage capacity for petrol at Karachi site. Also, managing the supplies becomes much difficult if the company placing the order does not know whether it will have the funds to honour the required payment. In fact, suppliers demand money upfront before a vessel is loaded. The fact is the vessels have transit time, berthing is often not available on demand, and discharging the fuel for upcountry transportation can take days. 
Thus, whole process of supply is very complicated so the funds and management have to be certainly available all the time 24/7.

Obviously, the worst form of negligence is the current unprecedented shortage of petrol in the country for the last week or so has never been seen before. This alone exposes the government’s tall claims of good governance, improving national economy and running the country’s affairs. Wow!

Not importing even a single litre of oil during the month of December and importing only once during January is not the way to go. Is it inefficiency on part of the government or is it something cooking up merely for privatising the PSO? Time will tell.
But for now, the government needs to take a serious look at how it is running things and as to why this situation did arise in the first place. Although, the best option is the prime minister, finance minister and petroleum minister must step down immediately to pave the way for better governance in future, yet fashion of resigning is not for Pakistani democracy. Democracy by the incompetent is likely to continue.
True, crises do erupt in fuel supply/ power supply due to circular debt, nevertheless, the government is responsible to legally bind the defaulters to repay the debts. No immunity should ever be given to the defaulting institutions, provincial departments/federal ministries. Govt including OGRA (Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority) and PSO must go after recovering of the unpaid bills of electricity, gas and petrol.
Though slower, yet the alternate means of transportation in the meanwhile including Tonga and cycle rickshaw are the best options plus there is unpolluted clean air to breathe. Follow the Chinese model of simplicity using bicycles; that’s good for health and is very economical indeed.


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