BOOK REVIEW: Public enterprises in Pakistan: The hidden crisis in economic development


La Porte and Ahmed have done well at analyzing the more specific economic (micro and macro) and management issues of Pakistan’s public enterprises. Their focus is more on specific industries and concerns, and they do not go into details about the broader political consequences of public enterprises and their relation to the political process and governmental functioning in the country. This of course was not their brief, but the authors deserve commendation for raising issues which relate to broader political concerns as well. They argue that excessive interference by the bureaucracy is the major cause of poor performance of public enterprises. They also feel that with each change in government, there is a substantial influx in public sector concerns, where the new rulers provide jobs to members of their own constituency. The public enterprise sector in Pakistan employs over 561,000 or 28.6 per cent of total government employment and given the charges of corruption leveled at governments in the past, a large number of these employees have probably found employment not through advertisements or competition, but through their benefactors. With the focus more on public enterprises themselves rather than on the broader issues, La Porte and Ahmed have conducted a detailed study of 167 concerns. They have looked at a diverse cross-section of units in the more monopolized sectors such as finance, communications and energy as well as agriculture and construction, where government control is minimal. After a broad overview of the history of public enterprises and a discussion of their role in the economy, the authors turn to evaluate the socio-economic performance of public enterprises. They state that since data to examine such performance do not exist it is virtually impossible to quantify the performance. “The performance evaluation system of the Ministry of Production does not directly tackle the issue of socio-economic goal performance” (p. 42). Enterprises “outside the Ministry of Production are not actively involved in measuring their performance let alone gathering data on socio-economic performance” (p. 42). One is then left to qualitative assessments of socio-economic performance which

Share this Post!

About the Author : admin