Tag Archives: Pakistan

How the Lack of Accountable Local Government Holds Back Democracy and Development in Pakistan

Pakistan_tehsils

Some of Pakistan’s districts — where administrative power is concentrated — contain more than a million people.

Fayyaz Bhidal is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Atlantic Council

If one were to number the challenges Pakistan faces today, one may end up with an exhaustive list of issues ranging from poor security to faltering economic growth, rising crimes to social unrest, corruption to political instability, among others. A closer look at these problems, however, will reveal that a great deal of these issues stem from poor governance and the centralization of political and administrative powers on the part of both provinces and federal government.

Take Punjab for example. A province that is spread over 79,284 square miles and houses of over 100 million individuals, it is divided into 36 administrative units called districts. Despite having a democratically elected political establishment in the provincial center, Lahore, the districts are governed and administered by senior bureaucrats known as Deputy Commissioners (DCs). This position is a legacy of the colonial era and emulates a system with highly concentrated power, allowing no say to the local communities in decision making process.

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6th All-Pakistan Secretary Generals Conference

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“Learning, networking, beginning of new friendships, exposure to cases of mutual interests – that is what this forum is to me” - Secretary General, Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry

“It was very informative conference, especially the new idea of panel discussion was excellent. In panel discussion so many legitimate issues came under discussion and the participants shared their experiences and exchange views. This idea of panel discussion provided the opport​unity for better understanding about membership development, litigation issues, and preparation of annual performance report/proposed plan activities and how to avail the facility of funding from donor organizations, which is no doubt a great assistance for the Secretary General to perform their obligations for the betterment of members as well for the organization” - Secretary General, Sargodha Chamber of Commerce & Industry

“Take away from this year conference is the conference is the discussion in person with vast experiences/contacts. This particular networking opportunity goes a long way afterwards. Moreover, compliance with Trade Organization Ordinance. 2013 and useful knowledge about funded projects by Donors are my learning/takeaways from this particular session of 2014. Gratitude to CIPE Team once again and congratulations to All Secratery Generals for availing this important opportunity. Now it’s our turn to implement the learning in our Business Association to achieve the purposes of both, the Chamber/Association as well as of CIPE” - Secretary General, Gujrat Chamber of Commerce & Industry

The annual Secretary Generals’ conference is CIPE Pakistan’s flagship event, giving the CEOs of all Pakistan’s business associations an opportunity to come together to network and learn from each other’s experiences.

This year we had 47 nominations, and per our budget had to restrict ourselves to 25 participants. We worked out a viable budget plan and were able to accommodate 40 Secretary Generals, which shows importance of this initiative.

The participants included four women, representing women’s chambers as well as male-dominated business associations. This conference was the 6th such event for Secretary Generals. The Secretary Generals traveled from four provinces of Pakistan to attend this two-day event.

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Multinationals Discuss Issues with Supply Chain Compliance in Pakistan

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“I see a great need of vendor supply chain training providers to run the show effectively. If we want growth, train the relevant person first” — Ayesha Muharram, Chief Internal Auditor and Country Compliance Officer, Glaxo Smith Kline.

Lately it has become a requirement among multinational companies to comply with international anti-corruption laws such as U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), U.K. Bribery Act, Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, Brazilian Clean Companies Act. Under these laws, multinational companies need to take appropriate actions for ensuring clean business — including making sure that all of their suppliers, vendors, and subsidiaries around the world are following the rules.

To help local companies and multinationals working in Pakistan deal with this challenge, CIPE Pakistan initiated a discussion on issues related to supply chain compliance in multinational companies. In collaboration with the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry, CIPE conducted a first focus group meeting of the Value Chain-Unethical Practices project. This first meeting was used to conduct a gap analysis, focusing the capacity building needs and the given standards in Pakistan.

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Business Loan Program for Pakistan Youth is Only a First Step

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Youth is a vital asset for every country`s progress. Pakistan has incredible youth but due to issues like shortage of funds, political unrest, and the lack of recognition and platforms to share ideas, they become helpless. According to the International Labor Organization’s recently published Global Employment Trends Report, Pakistan’s current unemployment rate of 5.17 percent will likely rise to 5.29 percent in 2014. The true unemployment rate for youth is much higher still.

The government has  recently begun he process of offering special loans worth Rs. 3.7 billion ($37 million) to help and empower the country`s youth. This was the first round of applications for the Business Youth Loan Programme which the premier announced last year.

What will the benefits of this program be? The question has no answer at this time because under the present strict conditions of screening and filing the loan application, young people are disappointed and reluctant to apply. 38,000 applications have been filed across the country: 28,000 from Punjab, 600 from Islamabad, 3,500 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 100 from  Gilgit Baltistan, 500 from Azad Kashmir, and 3,000 from Sindh. Out of these 38,000 applications, only 6,217 (16 percent) were approved for balloting and 5,399 applicants found their names in balloting.

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Redefining the Role of the Business Community in Pakistan

pakistan shadow budget

“To realize sheer benefits of the GSP Plus status the government should take rationalized steps to minimize the cost of doing business as lack of resources and huge export of raw material is indicating further increase in cost of doing business in the future” – Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Suhail Bin Rashid.

Historically, business associations were heavily politicized in Pakistan, preventing them from becoming a unified voice for economic reforms in the country. Recently, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry, an apex body of business associations in Pakistan, unveiled its first-ever “shadow budget,” consisting of suggestions related to Pakistan’s 2014-15 Federal Budget. This is a major turnaround.

After six years of support from CIPE Pakistan’s multifaceted capacity building efforts, business associations are now becoming a strong national voice for economic revival plans and mapping government accountability. This was a long process, started in 2009 when CIPE partner Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized its first All-Pakistan Chamber Presidents’ Conference.

Initially, the response was weak, but as the effort continued, business associations realized its importance. Since then, the annual conference has become an important venue for bringing the business community from across Pakistan together to discuss pressing economic issues and propose reforms to provide level playing field for businesses to grow. At the 6th Presidents’ Conference, participants not only discussed key areas for the revival of economy but made their thinking more public.

As the Federal Budget 2014-15 is in its preparation phase, for the first time, business leaders decided to collectively present their own budget proposals to the government. While taking the lead, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry arranged the first ever All Pakistan Chamber Presidents Pre-Budget Conference in first week of February 2014 to come up with suggestions regarding the federal budget.

In April 2014, Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry invited all Chamber Presidents to a second All-Pakistan Pre-Budget conference where the Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue, Tariq Bajwa, participated at the conference and listened the issues of business community.

CIPE engaged business associations and motivated them to speak on issues of economic importance and role of private sector in economic policy reforms. As a result, now all Chambers are able to turn the tables by raising their voice unanimously to issue specific policy proposals.

There is still a long way to go, but CIPE`s efforts of bringing business community together as part of a single platform has started paying dividends.

Hammad Siddiqui is Deputy Country Director for CIPE Pakistan. Muhammad Talib Uz Zaman is a Program Officer for CIPE Pakistan.

Learning from the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce

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Aliya Ahmed is a CIPE ChamberLINKS participant at the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Denver, Colorado.

It’s been three weeks now since my arrival here in the Unites States for CIPE’s 2014 ChamberLINKS program. It gives me immense pleasure to be fortunate enough to participate in this year’s program; I am excited to experience the differences between Pakistan and the United States, as well as to learn the best practices chambers in the U.S. are adopting. After my selection, I was anxious to further augment my knowledge about the work of chambers in foreign countries by joining the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

The most inspiring aspect of the ChamberLINKS program for me is that it is in line with my professional goals, which are to learn as much as I can about chambers’ work and acquaint myself with the latest trends in the field, contributing to my overall mission and professional skills.

I have been placed with the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CWCC), which is located in Denver. CWCC, established in 1988, is a progressive chamber actively engaged in providing opportunities and visibility for women in business through relationship development, education, mentorship, partnership, and alliances.

I am shadowing Director of Events Katie Knorr, with whom I partake in daily chamber operations such as planning meetings, events, and conferences.

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The Way Forward in Afghanistan: Looking Beyond 2014

pajcciBy Huzaifa Shabbir Hussain and Hammad Siddiqui

As neighbors, Pakistan and Afghanistan have a number of commonalities. Both are predominantly Muslim countries and share similar values, culture, and civilization — as well as a long history of trade through both formal and informal channels. The signing of a new transit trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2010 has been termed as a major diplomatic accomplishment for both countries given the current geo-political environment. However, problems persist, especially in terms ensuring stability and growth in cross border trade and investment.

To help deal with these challenges, members of the business community from both countries formed the Pakistan and Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry in February 2012, with support from the British High Commission (BHC) and CIPE.

The core objective of the chamber is to facilitate peace prospects and strengthen economic and trade ties between the two countries. Since its establishment, PAJCCI has been aggressively pursuing its goal to ensure linkages between the business communities on both sides of the border.

The exchange of delegations, B2B and matchmaking sessions, circulation of trade and business opportunities, and annual  conference have become vital avenues for enhancing bilateral ties between the two countries. The platform has also provided an opportunity to raise the voice of business community on both  sides of the border, encouraging government officials to make changes that enhance cross-border trade and investment.

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