Monday, December 28, 2009

Concurrent Powers and Provincial Autonomy

Concurrent Powers and Provincial Autonomy.

Akhtar Ali .

In Pakistan , concurrent list has become a victim of popular protest and condemnation. People think that concurrent list is only specific snd unique to Pakistan. While the facts are to the contrary.

In almost all constitutions, defence , foreign affairs, currency, commerce and communication are exclusive federal subjects. In the US , the federal list covers 18 heads out of which, defence, foreign affairs and currency are exclusive federal domain and other 15 heads are are under shared/concurrent domain; all other subjects are under provincial/ state domain, without any specific state list.

In India on the other hand there are three long lists; federal (union), concurrent and state. There are 97 heads in the federal list, 47 heads in concurrent list and 67 in state list.

In Australian constitution, 39 heads of power are defined as federal and rest of powers with the state, with no specific list. Many federal powers are excercised as shared/ concurrent powers.

In the German constitution, federal list is limited to only 11 heads, and there is a large concurrent list of 24 heads. Implementation of most federal powers and all concurrent powers fall in the domain of provinces.

In Pakistan , 67 heads of power are awarded to federation (less than India) and 47 heads are in concurrent list ( equal to India); all others to provinces. Hence the notion of doing away with the concurrent list is absurd. It is a useful and indispensable tool of federal and provincial government coordination .The culprits have been the dictatorial centrist regimes, which have mostly ruled Pakistan for long continuous periods. Civilian rules have been short, intermittent, unstable and often victims of shadow powers.

Also concurrent powers do not always mean federal paramountcy. This need not be defined in the constitution and the matters should be decided through the democratic process and executive support on a case to case basis taking into account economic and administrative efficiency and regional equality.


· Reduce the federal exclusive list and transfer these heads to concurrent .

· Promote discussion, negotiation and democracy.

· Recent NFC consensus award is just one indicator.

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