ISLAMABAD, Jan 16 (DNA): Federal Caretaker Minister for Information, Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi said on Tuesday
that all those countries which had touched the zenith of development had done so by empowering local government.
“Throughout my own experiences and understandings there is no democracy without local government”, he said while delivering his speech at a two-day Conference for the Civic Hackathon “Problem Identification”.
The minister opined that probably lack of a strong local government system was probably one of the major problems in Pakistan’s political history.
Terming the conference for the civic hackathon problem identification as a very interesting initiative, he said it aimed to bring together experts from the public, private sector and civil society to collectively identify the most pressing civic issues in the country – in order attempt to later develop a digital solution for it.
He said that in Pakistan, there was a lot of potential to focus on developing innovative local solutions. However, he said that the problems were often identified in isolation by the public sector and in his opinion this more participatory approach of conducting a problem identification conference and later a civic hackathon would provide more sustainable results.
Solangi said that the government of Pakistan now recognized the increasing need and advantage of a culture of evidence-based decision-making that is participatory – meaning that it engaged citizens and that was need-based so to ensure the effective allocation of resources.
He said that during the 18th Amendment, Article 140 was amended by adding sub article called 140-A reading: “Each province shall by law establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local government”.
He said that was the reason many political commentators and some parties had started pressing that the local government laws of the provincial government must be in harmony with this article of the Constitution.
Solangi said this very important conference was not about just digital literacy or just finding digital solutions, at the heart of the problem was governance itself. “People are at the center of this whole exercise that you are conducting so we should know what our problems are, who our target audience is, and where are we heading with this digital exercise”, he added.
The minister said he believed that ultimately this process would help improve public service delivery, bridge the digital divide and strengthen local governments.
Solangi said that local governments were not only custodians of such digital solutions but also the main drivers of change at a local level across the country.
He extended his sincerest thanks to the participants from the public and private sectors, local government officers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, academia, and experts in the field of local government.
The minister hoped that collective brainstorming for the joint identification of a problem statement would enable local governments in Pakistan to strengthen digital transformation. He also thanked the Federal Republic of Germany especially the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH which had been working in Pakistan since 1961 and has offices in several provinces for supporting this important initiative.
He said that Germany was supporting Pakistan in the areas of local governance, climate change and just energy transition, social protection, sustainable economic development and vocational education and training through 12 separate projects working with the federal and provincial governments.
The minister said that the caretaker government had officially launched the first-ever Pakistan Startup Fund worth Rs2bn to propel information technology innovation.
He said that the Government hoped to create value of at least Rs 50 billion per year in Pakistan’s startup ecosystem
Pakistan, he added, boasted a network of eight National Incubation Centres (NICs) supporting startups, with over 4,000 startups currently active in the country.