Below are some of the key areas where SUBAI will deliver support to the Assemblies in the coming months.
This support has been agreed with individual Assemblies as set out in their 2-year Workplans.
Legislative Support Services
SUBAI will be examining and proposing innovative approaches to help respond to the requests for improvements in legislative drafting and assessment requested by the Assemblies. The vast majority of Pakistan’s legislation is based on the British pattern and Pakistan still follows the techniques of legislative drafting of 19th century British India as a criterion. There is a dire need to inject modern thinking and ideas into the legislative policy followed by the Legislatures. The existing drafting techniques in Pakistan have not kept pace with time. Only a handful of legal professionals are engaged in drafting legislation through learning by doing (on the job training) and that too, is based upon imitating centuries old laws. Therefore in response to the needs expressed by the Assemblies that the system or processes of drafting legislation need to be streamlined through a well-thought Basic Legislative Drafting Manual consisting of less than 100 pages to supplement the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly enabling the Assembly to better perform its core law making function. It has to be written in plain language to enable all the stakeholders to understand it.
Public Financial Management Support Services
SUBAI collaborated in Spring 2017 with PIPS to undertake some pre-budget briefing sessions across the Provincial Assemblies. As a follow on to that initial briefing the Assemblies have indicated a desire to receive additional technical assistance in order to gain a better understanding about Public Finance Management. Each Assembly is mandated as part of its core oversight responsibilities to examine public finances. The Assemblies recognize that Government budgets are at the core of development. It is the government’s most powerful economic tool to meet the needs of its people, especially those who are poor and marginalized. Whether Members are interested in health, education, the environment, or pensions, the most well-meaning public policy has little impact on poverty until it is matched with sufficient public resources to ensure its effective implementation. Therefore SUBAI will develop interventions that will help to increase the Assembly’s awareness and input into the budget cycle and thus be better able to discharge their fiscal oversight role.
Committee Support Services
SUBAI will be providing a range of technical assistance to further strengthen Committees. In any Parliamentary democracy it is the efficiency and effectiveness of the Committee system that serves as the driving force that enhances the role of the Parliament in its three core functions – Legislation, Oversight and Representation. Sometimes referred to as “mini legislatures” or the “eyes and ears” of the Parliament, Committees are designed to engage in a variety of activities including the detailed scrutiny of public policy, reviewing legislation, exercising fiscal oversight and overall scrutiny of the Executive, as well as conducting hearings to obtain public input.
Strategic Planning Support
Strategic planning is a structured and coordinated process for developing short, medium, and long term organizational goals and strategies to accomplish those goals. Starting with the present state of an organization or an institution, it lays out its direction over the next several years, how it will get there and how it will know if it got there or not. In this regard the National Assembly of Pakistan and its leadership are considered pioneers as they embarked on an ambitious plan to develop a holistic strategic plan that both reflected the needs of the Members and the Secretariat while taking an institutional reform approach to the modernization of the Assembly. SUBAI will respond to similar requests for support from the Provincial Assemblies.
Human Rights support services
International laws frame domestic democratic structures and serve as an instrument for ensuring national, regional and global development and stability that leads to international peace and security. All Assemblies have expressed the need to better understand the impact and implications of Pakistan’s obligations as a signatory of a variety of International treaties and conventions, and particularly the extent to which the Provincial government has to ensure compliance.
Caucus and human rights support
Caucuses however, are more informal groups that lobby for legislation, conduct outreach activities, gain visibility for key issues such a youth, women, and minority issues and accomplish other stated goals. Unlike Committees these groups do not usually have formal legislative responsibilities, but they can be more persuasive, mainly through advocacy, which is frequently a priority among their informal activities.
Caucuses can coalesce around key development issues that they all can support, helping them rise above the tensions between political parties to fight for causes or collaborate on other policy issues. Legislators need to understand the imperatives of economic development and the limitations of developing policies within the given frameworks of international powers. International events have a direct impact on social and economic realities, thus creating a need for policy makers to understand the currents of the global economy, and the need to work strategically with global powers. Indeed, legislators have to work within the given power arrangements and play an active and effective role as parliamentarians, and more importantly as reformers and leaders.
SUBAI will seek to offer support to existing Caucuses including the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) and, subject to the level of interest within the Assemblies forge links between Provincial YPFs and the Federal level Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF). SUBAI will also provide, where requested support to Human Rights focused Caucuses, and emerging Minority Rights Caucus groups
Accessibility and Transparency Support services
Citizen engagement in democratic processes is essential for the legitimacy of government, and citizens need to understand the practices, principles and norms of good democratic governance and this includes the functions of their elected representatives and their role as citizens. This will help to ensure that the citizens are better able to get engaged in democratic processes. However, in a nascent democratic governance setting such as is observed in the Provincial Assemblies, the role and importance of the creating greater space for a plurality of voices by the Assembly is often limited because of an absence of understanding about the role and work of the Assembly. Coupled with this is the jargon and terminology used, which makes it difficult for many laypersons, including the youth, to understand parliamentary processes and the implications that arise from the work of the Assembly. To help citizens specifically in this case the Youth and Children to better understand, assess and contribute to the democratic processes then a suite of easy to understand information about the operations of the Assembly needs to be provided both in a user-friendly style and available in Urdu language. Equally important will be that the suite of Guides needs to be in simple formats with clear and simple explanations about the democratic practices, principles and norms that guide the work of the Assemblies.