Pakistan has worn the façade of a welfare state since day one; perhaps because Islam enjoins a welfare state that takes care of the less fortunate, and our policy makers took that into account. Either that, or romanticising the Western lifestyle is our only hope of imitating the standard bearers of quality life throughout the world. On paper, this may seem enticing, especially when a developing country is pushing hard to improve the standard of living, even with the limited resources of a developing country. In contrast to what appears on paper, the reality is nowhere close to that. Basic public facilities that constitute the Human Development Index (HDI) are in dire straits. Although, there is a warranted increase in budget allocation for basic public facilities every time around when the budget is presented, the dismal condition of public service never seems to improve. Budget increases do happen, but they don’t always translate into improved services, which is all that matters. The level of confidence our elected officials have in the public services is easily discernible by the fact that they prefer to send their own children to private schools, and go abroad for their medical check-ups. Why don’t our Chief Ministers and other representatives send their own children to these newly modelled Danish schools? Will they be getting their personal check-ups at the newly constructed, allegedly ‘state-of-the-art’, six-story surgical tower in Mayo Hospital which has been touted so much? Or were millions spent from the public exchequer’s pocket on cheap publicity alone? It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why those tasked with managing and maintaining the quality of public services should also have to be dependent on those very services. That is the only way a truly egalitarian welfare system can be created. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s reality is just the opposite. As such, our democracy is nothing but a shallow imitation of the West. Another major component of a welfare state is government support and pension for the elderly members of the society. Pakistan has Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) to take care of senior citizens. They are supposed to dole out a monthly tranche to facilitate them in their daily lives and help them manage expenses. This is another good idea we have borrowed from the West. Let’s be fair about this. Our only contribution here can be effective management of EOBI funds. Tax collection is most important here, since the elderly can’t be provided with any financial aid if the money isn’t collected in the first place. This is followed by transparency in how the funds are used. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why those tasked with managing and maintaining the quality of public services should also have to be dependent on those very services. That is the only way a truly egalitarian welfare system can be created Regrettably, our government has failed in all three of the above mentioned aspects. Tax collection is anything but transparent. The government has regulated the corporations to deduct a certain amount at the source before the salary is transferred to the employees. However, the employees have every right to know in clear terms how much will be deducted each month, and if the deduction will be consistent. When there’s a hike in EOBI deduction from salaries, will that ever be publicised and transparently communicated before deducting or they will be administered in an ad hoc fashion to cover up the revenue authorities poor tax collecting job? That way, the recipient of such unsolicited cut will be aware and vigilant of any disproportionate deduction taking place in the name of the EOBI scheme. Secondly, we the taxpaying citizens-have every right to ask how our money is being managed and utilised. The EOBI has had its fair share of scandals, including a scam worth Rs 44 billion and an ex-minister being implicated for using EOBI funds for dubious deals and kickbacks. To be a welfare state, collecting taxes is not enough, the tax money has to be used to provide the populace with top notch public facilities. How old age pensions are utilised should be publicised, as with any development project. This won’t gather votes, but the government has an ethical responsibility to let taxpayers know how their money is being used. Greater use of information technology, smart phone application and automated timely phone messages needs to be introduced for EOBI to transform into a true welfare scheme. Our so-called welfare system has been nothing but a superficial imitation of Western welfare models, and this will not get us anywhere. Political will and tested management practices that apply in the local environment will ensure the success and deliverance of any such welfare scheme. The writer is a Political Analyst with an interest in Pakistan’s history and politics. He tweets at @daniyalarif and is accessible at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, June 3rd 2018.