Some suggestions for Najam Sethi
You may not like to make major policy decisions, nor would you like to incur new expenditure. Here are some suggestions that will not involve either factor but still make your short stay as Chief Minister of the Punjab memorable.
Reverse the present policy on official language
The present policy is that English is the official language of the province but Urdu may be used. Reverse that to declare that Urdu will be the official language with immediate effect, while English may continue to be used for the time being. There will be no change for quite some time but it may come gradually. Bilingual software will allow use of English terms where Urdu terms are not yet standardized. Balochistan, Khyber and Azad Kashmir already use Urdu as the official language.
Make it Saturday and Friday if you must have two holidays
It was an unwise decision to make Saturday and Sunday as public holidays. Most people will not return after Juma prayers. So, it will be a weekend of 2½ days. If the holidays are Saturday and Friday, it will make the weekend shorter and also make most people happy. Markets outside major cities already close on Fridays. Keep in mind that the total number of government employees in the country is only three millions. Their wishes should not be imposed on all others.
Replace publication of tender notices with display ads
The publication of tender notices gives billions to newspapers and magazines but the Government gets nothing in return. Instead, funds should be devoted to display ads for public awareness and government publicity. It will give good value for money. The tender notices may be published on websites, sent through email or registered book posts to contractors.
Make all government publications available on Internet
The Government should make available on the Internet all of its publications, books, reports, studies, District Gazetteers, etc. Create a cell in Information Department for revision and updating of District Gazetteers. Also start their translation in Urdu for wider use.
The Gazette of the Punjab Government should also be on Internet.
Publish online national directory of publications
Ask Information Department to publish an online provincial directory of publications, using the data in the publishers’ declarations. For future, the directory may be updated as and when a new declaration is filed.
The declaration may require in future more details, such as phone numbers, email address, and web site.
Resume publication of annual yearbook
The Information Department used to publish a yearbook, covering all major events of the year. It was a very useful reference work for students, teachers, journalists, scholars and interested persons. Unfortunately, publication was stopped after One Unit was broken up and provinces were restored. Ask the Department to resume publication of the yearbook. It should be published online to save printing expenses and allow easy access from everywhere.
Create an online directory of public servants
Create an online directory of all officials of the Punjab Government, BS 17 and above, with their phone numbers and email addresses. As a policy, they should also be required to respond to every letter and email message.
Abolish printer’s declaration
Printing press is no longer the only way to make copies. Moreover, a printer has absolutely no control on the content of a publication. Therefore, he should not be hauled up for any fault of the publisher and editor. (You don’t punish an arms dealer for the misuse of a weapon sold by him.) The Government may also delete references to printer in the press laws.
Start digitization of all libraries
Start digitization of all content available in public and private libraries of the province to make it available on Internet. Teams may visit libraries to digitize on the spot. UNESCO, US AID and other agencies may fund the project.
Urdu version of the government website
Now that support for Urdu is available in Windows 7, it should be easy to create the Urdu version of the Punjab government website. All departments, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies and district governments may be required to set up their websites in Urdu, using a standard uniform design.
Make available maps of all districts on website
Get maps from the Survey of Pakistan in the scale of 1:25,000 for all districts of the province and make them available on Internet. It will be of great value to students, teachers, journalists and others.