Syed Kausar Abbas is a scholar of the Institute for Foreign Culture Affairs, IFA exchange program "Cross Culture internships" in Bonn. He is the Senior Advocacy & Training Officer of the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in Pakistan and interested in how the budget and Governance in Germany for citizens is made transparent and accessible. In a meeting with the editorial staff of Buergerhaushalt.org in mid September, he gave interesting insights as to how step-by-step in Pakistan more transparency and participation in budget is achieved.
The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) was established in 2003 by a group of committed citizens. The declared objective of this Pakistani non-profit organization is the promotion of peace and sustainable development. There is a focus on the demand for more transparency and free access to information of the public sector, particularly regarding public issues. So far, citizens have little to say regarding the creation of budgets in Pakistan. The budgetary rules in Pakistan give every citizen access to budget information, and the Government has a responsibility to hold consultative sessions with the stake holders before presenting budgets. CPDI is holding pre-budget consultations with the Government officials in several districts and at provincial and national level.
In addition, CPDI published several brochures and publications of Budget analysis reports to create awareness among citizens about the budgetary process in Pakistan. CPDI, in collaboration with political and civil administration, is holding campaigns to ensure transparency and accountability in all public matters in Pakistan. The institution has launched several groups of volunteers, comprising students and people from different occupations, to monitor the performance of the elected representatives as well as the public officials. On the other hand, CPDI is bridging the gaps between elected representatives, public offices, and citizens. In 2010, the organization has successfully contributed to explicitly establishing 'The right to information' in the Constitution Article 19 (A).
Citizens should play an active role
This includes the consultation of the public when deciding on need based allocation in the budget. CPDI has also developed several initiatives designed to strengthen citizens' right to transparency and access to information, and to raise awareness of budget issues in turn. Syed Kausar Abbas lays emphasis on the need of public participation in all matters of governance, from casting votes to the decision-making and legislative process. The citizens should play an active role to make the governance process transparent and to hold officials accountable. The citizens are educated with posters, brochures, and even a nature picture book with comics. CPDI explains the budget planning process in simple words, as well as the responsibility of every citizen: to inform oneself, to participate in consultations, to question wrong priorities, to make own proposals and demand accountability.
(...) CPDI is working on the five major areas of governance in Pakistan. These are: transparency and access to Information, rule of law (community policing and police reforms), promotion of peace and tolerance, budget watch, legislative watch and democratic development. CPDI is among the leading research-based advocacy organizations in Pakistan. It strengthens democratic institutions and creates opportunities for public participation and accountability in governance." (From: "Our right to information and our responsibilities"). To promote the transparency of budgets is the first step on the way to active participation of the citizens. Anyone who is interested in Syed Kausar Abbas and the CPDI is welcome to have a closer look and support their program.
by Syed Kausar Abbas
More information under http://cpdi-pakistan.org/