Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Pakistan Citizens’ Portal — set up at the Prime Minister Office with an aim to “timely address the problems of the people and get their feedback” — on Sunday.
The portal will be available to citizens in the form of a cellphone app, but they will also be able to approach the government via telephone, email or written letters.
The portal will be used to send complaints and suggestions to Prime Minister Office directly, according to Radio Pakistan, and the office will oversee the “process of addressing the public complaints and implementation on recommendations”.
PM Khan, while addressing the inauguration ceremony in Islamabad, described the system as “the first step towards improving governance” and creating a conducive environment for investment.
“The system that we’ve developed is a means to change the prevailing mindset. For the first time, government offices and ministries will be accountable,” the premier said, adding that it would give ordinary Pakistanis, both home and abroad, a voice.
“The portal will make it easy for me to get details of where in Pakistan the complaints are coming from, about which ministries,” said the premier.
The system will enable the government to keep track of what’s happening in various ministries and departments, and how they are performing, and subsequent “policies will reflect what the public wants”.
“All policy-making will be done after hearing the voice of the people,” he added.
“I believe this will bring a quantum change in Pakistan which is very important for our future. We need investment. We ave inherited a mountain of debt, and if we want to get out of it, there is only one way ─ we need to bring investment to Pakistan,” the PM said.
The premier explained that foreign investment may increase in Pakistan when barriers to investment are removed by addressing and resolving complaints lodged through the portal.
Khan recalled a visit to Turkey while Recep Tayyip Erdogan was prime minister. “He told me that he had a complaint cell in his office for investors, which led to a change in his office.”
“Our youth have developed this portal in-house, and it can be expanded. It will be connected with the offices of the provincial chief secretaries. They will be pressured then to give answers. We will know what’s happening in the province and what departments are performing,” he said.
“Before putting in your complaint on the system, the address and ID card details will all be asked for and this database will be connected with National Database and Registration Authority, so we will know if a complaint is authentic or not,” the PM said, adding that people will be informed how long it will take to receive a response to their complaints.
“This is an all-rounder app with every government department under it; from health to police to education. It is all encompassing,” he said.
“Every week, I will receive all the details about complaints from each area, and which ministries complaints are coming from. The people in government will realise that they must serve citizens, since their salaries are being paid through taxpayers’ money.”
Additionally, the premier said, all complaint data will be published so that the public can hold provincial governments accountable as well.
“Naya Pakistan will come into being when the Pakistani people own the government and rely on the government to help them,” he added.
The system will also make it easy to punish and reward government officers on the basis of their performance, PM Khan said. “Complaints will appear on the ACRs of officers who don’t perform… and so promotions will be on merit. A merit-based system will be created,” he said.
When asked how the complaint portal is different from complaint cells set up in previous governments, PM Khan said: “This sort of system does not exist in Pakistan ─ and even in many European countries. It can take a huge load, it is connected. This is e-governance that was never there in Pakistan.”
“The governance system will push all departments. As PM, I had no way of knowing how efficient various departments are. If they colluded (with each other), I wouldn’t get feedback. The citizens will hold the government accountable, and such feedback has never been given to any PM in Pakistan before.”