Public growth key to Industrial progress

September 7, 2018

It has regularly been said that business should not be the business of the government. It is hoped that given the large investments in the public sector, a new dynamic will be introduced by the PTI rulers to define the nexus between the government and the public sector, by which accountability to Parliament and the people is not diluted. And it should be carried out in a manner that ensures innovation and success of any public sector enterprise in the market, which is not compromised. This is an issue that Parliament needs to debate on the basis of enlightened analysis and global experiences.  Even for privatization of the public sector, its dynamism and success in the market are essential. Industrial development is always driven by growth of the public sector. Yet, the manner in which the public sector functioned in the past was quite different from what has evolved in recent decades. Several public sector organizations were highly professional with decision-making in the hands of competent and well-trained executives. But in terms of future directions and major financial powers, the role of the executive has been curtailed over time. Significantly, on matters other than those involving broad policy, earlier there was no interference from above in respect of operational and management issues. However, in the recent past, there has been a growing interference in their functioning and were used as milch cows for the benefit of the politicians in general. The result is that these organizations have become overstaffed with a decline in the caliber of employees and a reduction in the quality of human resources. The public sector has become a convenient place for providing employment to large number of people who are followers or constituents of those in power. For example, this is one of the chronic problems ailing PIA as well. The case of PIA is particularly pathetic. This was one of the finest airlines in the world and had a remarkable head start over several others which are thriving today.  Any passenger, for whom PIA was the airline of choice, would feel sad at flying the national carrier now. The class of service on board is nowhere near what it used to be. Unfortunately, the previous governments didn’t allow the public sector to reach the levels of excellence. The result has been a record of recurrent losses, an absence of innovation and vision which are the defining qualities of a successful business enterprise.

Industrial development is always driven by growth of the public sector