The Planning & Development Department (P&DD), Government of the Punjab in collaboration with DFID funded SNG Programme & Punjab team organised a high-level policy dialogue on development framework for the Punjab on Saturday, March 11, 2017 in the Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel, Lahore.
As many as 40 key functionaries of Government of the Punjab, attended the event. Among others, Finance Secretary, Secretary Local Government, Secretary Agriculture, Secretary Public Health Engineering, Secretary Livestock, Secretary Industries, Commerce & Investment, Secretary Implementation, Chief Minister (CM) Secretariat, Secretary I&C, Secretary P&DD, CEO Saaf Paani, MD PDMA and CEO IDAP, attended the session. Usman Khan, SNG Advisor on Planning & Governance was also part of the discussion panel.
The session was convened to initiate a high-level dialogue on overall development framework of Punjab to identify key issues and brainstorm on possible improvements in the current structure. Jehanzeb Khan, Chairman P&DD moderated the dialogue after his presentation on the current development framework in Punjab, which has undergone various stages of structural transitions post-independence.
While talking about the imbalance between the quantity and quality of investments made by the government, Chairman identified “inadequacy of macro-economic planning and lack of clarity on monitoring and evaluation” as the key factors contributing towards the weak measurement of impact against each investment. The Chairman laid a lot of emphasis on strategic planning, which is backed by quality research for project planning cycle. He further stressed upon the ways in which the annual evaluation criteria could be improved by shifting the focus from the quantity to quality of each investment. Furthermore, Chairman also talked about the overlapping division of responsibilities at the local and provincial level of government, which has introduced duplication of projects at either level.
The participants provided candid feedback based on their experiences. The key issues that came forward included; (i) a smaller planning cycle, leaving little or no time to plan and research; (ii) Human Resource constraints and; (iiii) Complex nature of the PPP transactions. The session ended where the Chairman agreed that the planning cycle should start in July immediately after the budget rather than in 2 January. The Departments were encouraged to conduct critical HR capacities reviews and propose work plans, and Member PPP was advised to work on further simplification of the PPP process.
SNG Punjab team provided technical support to P&DD in gathering evidence to support the dialogue. SNG’s role has been pivotal in diagnosing the issues more strategically and thinking through the possible solutions. While talking about the strategic significance of the dialogue, SNG Advisor on Planning & Governance, Usman Khan said that the forum helped gather different thoughts together and initiated the much needed “intellectual debate within the key policy makers.”