Improving Governance in Pakistan: Changing Perspectives on Decentralisation (The Allama Iqbal Lecture)

Ehtisham Ahmad


Allama Iqbal stressed the need for khudi in terms of national
identity and focus on selfreliance, without which there would have been
no chance to break colonial bounds. The message still resonates today,
in a period of economic crisis and lack of national agreement on tax
reforms. International experience with decentralisation also emphasises
the importance of significant own-source revenues in generating
accountability and effective service delivery at all levels of
government. Although the 18th Amendment of Pakistan Constitution makes
significant strides towards clarifying spending responsibilities, the
issue of subsidiarity is not effectively addressed, nor is the issue of
implementable own-source of revenues. This runs the risk of generating
unfunded mandates, further pressures and weakening of public service
delivery, leading possibly to strengthening of ethnic and parochial
divisions and centrifugal forces. Iqbal’s message is as important now as
it was in the last century. JEL classification: H 77 Keywords:
Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations

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