18th Amendment revisit be discouraged; capacity building of provincial governments necessary: Sartaj

18th Amendment revisit be discouraged; capacity building of provincial governments necessary: Sartaj

ISLAMABAD, May 23 (APP): Former National Security Advisor and public intellectual Sartaj Aziz Monday said that the call for revisiting 18th Amendment should be discouraged rather capacity of the provincial governments needed to be enhanced to deal with the devolved subjects of Education and Health.

Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (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, said a news release.

  President PILDAT, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob presented key takeaways from the background paper written by former National Security Advisor who was also the former Federal Minister for Finance, Foreign Affairs and a Development Economist.

Sartaj Aziz who could not attend the session but in his recommendations, emphasised that the duplication of efforts should be avoided between Federal and Provincial Governments in areas such as Health, Agriculture and Population Planning.

He proposed that the role of federal government should be increased in social protection, poverty reduction, higher education and health insurance by better utilisation of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

The federal government should show leadership by evolving through consensus and approval of CCI whereas a model Local Government (LG) 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 Associate Professor at the College of Law, Australian National University (ANU), Dr. Moeen Cheema 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.

Joint Director PILDAT Aasiya Riaz welcomed the participants and provided a background for the discussion session in addition to moderating the session.