Citizens’ Oversight of Federalism in Context of 18th Amendment-(Completed))

TItleProject Title: Citizens’ Oversight of Federalism in Context of 18th Amendment

Supported by: USAID
Duration:October 2013 to November 2014 (14 Months)
Project ObjectivesThis project has been conceived and designed to achieve the following objectives:

1. To carry out action-oriented and policy relevant research, which is based on sound understanding of implementation related challenges and which provides practical ideas for progress in terms of people-oriented and more efficient implementation.

2. To improve public awareness about the salient features of 18th amendment, any implementation gaps, and how it should be implemented in relation to the selected sectors for the benefit of public and to ensure maximum public participation, transparency and public accountability.

3. To oversee the progress in terms of implementation of 18th amendment and highlight the progress as well as gaps with the aim of drawing the attention of relevant authorities.

4. To build capacity of journalists and civil society activists in terms of effective reporting or oversight of as well as engagement with authorities about the issues related to 18th amendment.

5. To promote use of available accountability mechanisms for the purpose of ensuring that pace of implementation improves in manner that is consistent with best practices and ensures public participation in all its phases.
Geographic Focus: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)
Target Groups:Media/CSOs/Political Parties
DescriptionThe 18th constitutional amendment has significantly changed the nature of relationship between the Federal government and the provinces in Pakistan. It included 102 amendments, whereby various provisions of the 1973 constitution were amended, substituted, added to, or deleted. It has transferred a large number of powers, responsibilities and institutions to the provinces, and hence has empowered them to be able to efficiently respond to public needs, demands and aspirations at the provincial levels without needing approvals or concurrence from the Federal government. The reforms through the 18th amendment were widely agreed by political parties and appreciated by civil society, especially in the smaller provinces of the country.
The 18th amendment is, nevertheless, consistent with the long-standing demands of nationalist political parties, as well as those who believed that a strong Federation would be possible only through stronger federating units. It is also in line with the best practices in
relation to governance, which revolve around the principles like devolution, decentralization, subsidiarity, transparency and accountability. It is because the people can have more effective and stronger say when authority, power or responsibility is vested in institutions that are located closer to them.In Pakistan, however, the biggest challenges usually relate to implementation of laws,
policies or constitutional provisions. The implementation capacities are generally weak, whereas vested interests or players with interests in status quo also seek to obstruct or delay implementation of specific reforms. In relation to the 18th amendment, it is generally believed that bureaucracy at the Federal level is not willing to loose control and, therefore, has been offering resistance, which has slowed down the implementation process. Certain segments of political class also find it difficult to adjust with the new reality marked by a leaner Federal government and stronger provinces. On the other hand, provincial governments do not have the requisite technical capacities to quickly absorb the new powers, responsibilities and institutions within the existing scope of provincial jurisdiction. In this regard, they face numerous challenges including the following:
Laws, rules and procedures: As a result of changes in the constitutional framework, the provinces need to adopt the hitherto Federal laws, as per the needs of the respective province, or amend existing provincial laws to make them compatible with the scope of newly assigned responsibilities, or enact new laws, as required. Similarly, various rules and procedures also need to be improved and updated.Administrative measures and oversight mechanisms: The provincial governments need to take appropriate administrative measures to manage the departments, institutions, assets and human resources, which have been or are to be shifted to them, as well as to ensure the existence of appropriate oversight mechanisms. In certain cases, there will be a need to establish new wings or even departments to manage various responsibilities.Policy framework: In several instances, the provincial governments need to either come up with policies or adjust existing policies with the post 18th amendment situation. Relevant examples may include education policy and health policy, which used to be Federal in scope but now each province will need to have one exclusively of its own.Financial measures: While new powers, responsibilities and institutions are transferred to the provinces, there exist a range of questions about how the relevant financial requirements will be met. There exist controversies as well as confusions, which need to be clarified, besides ensuring that provinces are able to receive or raise required resources.Most importantly, as of now, the role of civil society in the context of implementation of 18th amendment is conspicuous by its absence. It is due to multiple reasons such as limited interest and capacities within the civil society as well as technical nature of interventions and engagement with the relevant authorities. Yes, it is imperative that civil society organizations come forward and play their role in terms of creating public awareness, developing or organizing the pro-reform constituency, undertaking effective oversight of the implementation process, engaging with authorities to highlight gaps or give public input, and hold the authorities accountable in case of any lapses, problems or inefficiencies.In view of the above, this project will be implemented in the province of KPK with a focus on education, health, food and agriculture. Most of the research, government oversight, and policy advocacy will be with the focus on provincial government or, though minimally, with the federal government. Besides, the project will undertake public awareness and consultation meetings or events in three main districts, which are Peshawar, Abbottabad and Mardan. CPDI has strong presence, connections as well as experience of working in these districts.