Sartaj Aziz discourages to revisit 18th Amendment

Sartaj Aziz discourages to revisit 18th Amendment

ISLAMABAD, May 26 (APP):A virtual seminar on Comparing Evolution of Federalism in Pakistan and Australia was held on Thursday with Academia of leading universities of Pakistan. The seminar was organized by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) with the support of the Australian High Commission’s Direct Aid Programme.

President PILDAT Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, presented key takeaways from the background paper written by public intellectual, former National Security Advisor and Former Federal Minister for Finance, Foreign Affairs and a Development Economist Sartaj Aziz, who could not attend the session but recommended that the call for revisiting 18th Amendment should be discouraged.

Instead, the capacity of the provincial governments needs to be enhanced to deal with the devolved subjects of Education and Health, he said and added, duplication of efforts should be avoided between federal and provincial governments in areas such as Health, Agriculture and Population Planning.

He said that the role of the federal government should be increased in social protection, poverty reduction, higher education and health insurance by better utilization of the CCI. The federal government must show leadership by evolving through consensus and 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 percent 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 policy making in the federal government or Commonwealth of Australia,

he expressed adding 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.

The evolution of mechanisms of coordination between the Commonwealth and States through policy making is also entrenched in practice that takes care of the centralization of power.

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