Pakistanis, I believe, are inherently discontented—and rightly so. I shall tell you why though! People often complain about how various systems in Pakistan are out of place which become the reason for discomfort and exasperation. And that is the reason governmental departments that are essentially responsible for all kinds of registration processes are looked down upon. There are numerous delays which actually give way to frustration and a feeling of mistrust.
Who would know it better than the entrepreneurs who invariably have to go through the whole process for start-up of their new business? They are a witness to the agonizing and relentless waiting hours. A large number of governmental organizations are involved in the registration process of any business; it could be a firm, a private limited company, a publication or a manufacturing plant. Thus entrepreneurs have to take the bitter pill and embark on an arduous journey with the hope of getting their work done with ease and in lesser amount of time. Thus this is inevitable for every person who is starting a new business in any domain. Government departments are usually involved in the start and in some cases they are also responsible to keep a check once the business is operational.
The policies and procedures of the government departments for new entrepreneurs or companies are very flexible and reasonable. But when it goes to the implementation level, there is always a government officer solely appointed for the purpose of creating unnecessary problems for the people. For example, if a registration process takes 15 days to complete and Rs. 10,000 dues are required during the process; government employees never guide a person properly and always provide information that is misleading and useless. They want to get something out of it by creating hurdles so that people eventually, in frustration, bribe them to get their work done. This depicts how people in the government departments compel innocent people to bribe them so that their pending work can be completed. This is highly unethical and goes unnoticed almost every time. This is the reason various government departments are standing where they stood a decade ago. No progress has been observed in terms of efficiency and effectiveness which is highly dismal.
There are certain cases when the owners of businesses are paying all the taxes and duties, are following all the government instructions and are securing the rights of the labor but still they are still threatened by the government officers regarding various aspects of their work. They even take into account those things which are not even noticeable. If some part of the building is extended even by few inches, they will ask to demolish the whole structure although the extended part can easily be removed. They follow this path to get extra bucks and to create nuisance for the already frustrated person.
Another aspect which aggravates the whole situation is the old paper environment where nothing is automated and the processes take eternity to complete. Although computer systems have been installed and efforts have been made to digitalize the whole environment but all efforts have went down the drain since nobody makes use of these systems. Many of them, I doubt, would not even know how to use a computer which is sad because the staff is not trained to use computers in order to optimize the work being done and save time.
This implies that these people working in various government departments do not value time. They have not prospered because they did not value the importance of time and now other people who are dependent on them are suffering due to them. We need to understand that time is money and it should not be wasted at any cost. If the systems are automated, then not only can the time be saved but efficiency and effectiveness can be increased.
The fundamental problem underlying the whole situation is primarily the human resource operational at the government level. Most of the people are not well-educated and some can hardly speak Urdu and prefer to speak in their regional language even during the office hours which is very unprofessional. These people have now made it a habit to get the money under the table and are always unwelcoming towards the people who come to them. It has been observed that government has taken concrete steps to revamp the whole system but these kinds of people have hindered the efforts and keep the new systems from implementation. Thus it is the duty of the government to create and foster a centralized system to be used by different departments which deal with the public and then provide training to its employees and the staff as to how they should deal with the general public. Government should ensure the implementation of such systems and then keep a check on them and monitor their performance periodically. Any discrepancies should be identified and taken care of. We, as public, can’t do much except for raising this issue on different forums so that something is done about it.
The whole phenomenon has a profound effect on the economy as well. In order to avoid repeated visits to such government departments, people prefer doing jobs rather than starting their own businesses. But Pakistan at the moment needs new entrepreneurs because there are a number of untapped opportunities which need to be unveiled. There is currently a dearth of entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Pakistan is in need of new businesses which can usher in new investments and provide endless employment opportunities. A young entrepreneur, who wants to start his own business, and is a university graduate, coming from a very intellectual environment and wants to start a very modern kind of company, he has to go through all these unethical procedures (under the table) to open up a company. How can one expect a young fresh graduate who has numerous opportunities wait for months and months to get the work done. He would much rather find a good job in a multinational company and sit in an air conditioned room than stroll the streets to get signatures or to get his documents stamped. This factor dissuades young graduates with young minds to opt out of entrepreneurship and hence they choose to do jobs in various private companies. If the whole process becomes simpler and much more convenient then I am certain, more and more people would want to bring new business ideas in and start their own enterprises.
Being a Pakistani, we can very well cope with these things because we were born and bred in this country. Imagine what impression it sends across if a foreign investor comes across such problems. Who would want to invest in Pakistan? It is the need of the hour that our systems become much more flexible and friendly so that they attract investment rather than deterring the investors. Problems arise everywhere. What’s important is that how timely those problems, hurdles and nuisances are eradicated so as to ensure smooth working of all the systems. Our government should ensure timely revisions in all the obsolete systems and replace them with new and effective ones so that efficiency in all arenas can be achieved.