While restructuring in this country has mostly led to rightsizing (a euphemism for downsizing) the state enterprises, Gilani has created four new ministries in the name of restructuring the cabinet. This is highly inappropriate, particularly when the country is facing an unprecedented economic crunch and the government has targeted bringing down the deficit to four percent. With the addition of four new federal ministers, the number of the ministers will increase to 50. At a time when the government finds it difficult to ensure regular payment of monthly salaries to thousands of Railway employees and pensions to retired workers, leading to the death of an old employee who had to stand in the queue for the whole night for his pension, the expansion of an already considerable cabinet indicates a bizarre sense of priorities. The decision has been taken in disregard of the economic realities and public sentiment.
There was no urgency for the ministries that have been created. The announcement of the ministries of National Heritage and Integration, Disaster Management, National Regulations and Services and Food Security and Research could have waited till the country had come out of the economic doldrums. At a time when there is a dire need to revise the allocations made to various ministries to find more economic ways to fulfill their most crucial needs, the country has been burdened with four extra ministries. It was expected that after the expansion of provincial autonomy, there would be a leaner government at the federal level. What one sees happening is the opposite. It has been claimed by Gilani that the decision has been taken “to ensure clarity in role, integrated service delivery and efficiency in administering the federal administrative functions after the implementation of the 18th Amendment.” The experience of the US and China, to quote only two examples, would indicate that all these goals can be achieved with much smaller cabinets.
The decision is, in fact, motivated by political exigencies rather than administrative requirements. The allies have all along been demanding more ministries, and juicy ones at that. With elections to take place in two years, the PPP has to rethink if bad governance would really add to its popularity.
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