Tuesday, September 7, 2010

BBC News - How to fix flood-hit Pakistan

Ahmed Rashid in BBC:

If such funding is truly to arrive than it is time that Pakistan's kleptomaniac rulers restore some public trust.

The politicians need to agree to set up a Trust Fund, much like that which operates in Afghanistan to fund the government, army and police.

A tented relief camp for the flood victims in Pakistan, 5 September 2010 The floods have washed away 5,000 miles of road and rail and 1,000 bridges

Pakistan's Reconstruction Trust Fund could be run by a board that included the World Bank, other international lending agencies and independent and prominent Pakistani economists and social welfare figures with no ties to the government.

Pakistanis would still take all the major decisions, but those who did so would not be the cronies of the president, the PM or the opposition leaders.

Pakistan's finance bureaucracy and army would have seats at the table, but certainly no veto powers over how the money is spent.

Their job would be impartial implementation of recovery overseen by the Trust Fund.

Such a fund would not just monitor the cash, but help the government put together a non-political, neutral reconstruction effort.

It would also help plan long-term economic reforms, such as widening the tax base and insisting that landlords pay income tax.

The government has not tapped the large numbers of extremely competent Pakistani technocrats, NGO workers and economists.

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