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Published Date: Sep 28, 2011

POLITICIANS, EXPERTS SUPPORT LG SYSTEM

Vowing for collective action to revive Local Government system, experts, politicians and civil society organisations have demanded immediate holding of Local Government elections.   All have termed it as the constitutional responsibility of provinces under article 32 and 140(a), to establish elected local governments and devolve political, financial and administrative responsibilities to local government representatives.

They have also recommended creating awareness and campaigning to ensure political mobilization and time bound framework for LG elections, extension of LG system to all cantonments with elected heads and clear demarcation of function with provinces.   All these matters were agreed in a national roundtable consultation on “Elected Local Government: Revival and Reforms” jointly organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), SANGAT Foundation and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) here on Tuesday.   Speaking on the occasion, Senator Haji Adeel Ahmad said that ANP supported local bodies but opposed Local Government system of 2001, which violated the provincial autonomy.

He termed it as quiet unfortunate that political parties were unable to pass Local Government Bill in provinces despite promises made to people in general elections.

He also informed that LG bill, already tabled in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, would be passed very soon, and also He suggested further debates on provincial level to pave the way for swift legislation and implementation of the system.   Speaking on the occasion Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo said that every dictator started off with local government system while mainstream political parties tended to ignore it.

While referring to resource generation he said that no district in Balochistan (except Quetta to some extent) is able to generate resource on its own, and demanded that Provincial Finance Commission Award must be implemented immediately. He also lamented that MNAs and MPAs were performing tasks that fell under the jurisdiction of local governments.   The PPP MNA and Chairperson of NCHD Nafisa Shah said that provinces need to be sensitised for legislation on local government system. She criticized the 2001/05 local government system for being a complicated one, for having three tiers at local level, being against constitution, its failure to overlook rural urban divide and had violated provincial autonomy.

she said that political parties, , supported local bodies as they provide breeding ground for them and they also they have to decide now , as to which form of system they must adopt.   Daniyal Aziz, Advisor, Governance Institutes Network International discussed constitutional issues and highlighted the current status of local governments in the provinces. He was of the view that political elite did not want any competitors in form of local government system, fearing the loss of political patronage and relative political, financial and administrative powers.   Kaiser Bengali, Former Advisor Government of Sindh said that local government system of 2001 was deliberately designed to serve vested interests, severely damaging state institutions.

He elaborated that it was designed to counter politicians, political parties and provincial autonomy. He also said that the size of devolved unit should have been proportionate with functions. He proposed setting divisions as basic unit for devolution. There is need to combine 1979 and 2001-5 local government order and based upon the merits minus the shortcomings, to draft an efficient local govt system, he added   Dr. Abid Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, deliberated that local governance was a process, which has to be continued for positive change within the society. He said that one system might not suit all provinces, so provinces needs to work on refining their systems by defining agreements and disagreements.   Anja Minaret, Resident Representative of FES, called for collect action plan for revival of local government system in Pakistan and said that there is efficient local governance system in Germany on principle of subsidiary. Pakistan should also reintroduce the local governance system, which is the essence of democracy, she went on saying.   Zahid Islam of SANGAT Foundation highlighted some of the achievements of 2001 Local Government system that included mobilisation of marginalized section of society such as women, peasants and workers and advocacy of basic rights. He also presented some suggestion to remove shortcoming in the system.   Raza Rumi, International Development Expert/ADB, Sarwar Bari, Executive Director, Pattan, Mr. Asif Hasnian, MNA, MQM, Mr. Zafar Ullah, Executive Director, Centre for Civic Education and eminent lawyers Babar Sattar and Majid Bashir also attended and spoke at the event.