Legislators seek devolution of powers in capital

Two months ago, a Senate panel unanimously passed a constitutional amendment bill in this regard


Abdul Manan March 14, 2016
Senate panel passed amendment bill around two months ago .

ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers have urged the government to empower local governments by devolving political, administrative and financial powers, especially in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and the cantonment boards across the country.

Two months ago, a Senate panel unanimously passed a constitutional amendment bill in this regard, seeking to empower local governments in Islamabad and cantonments, which fall under the control of the Centre.

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Independent Senator Mohsin Leghari, who moved the bill to the Senate panel, told The Express Tribune on Sunday that the earlier relevant clause stated only provinces but now as local government elections had been completed, the entire governance had come directly from the federal government.

Despite the formation of local government bodies in cantonments and the ICT, neither the federal government had empowered them nor contacted the elected officer bearers, he said.

The Senate Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights had agreed that Clause 1 of Article 140-A of the Constitution should be substituted with a new clause covering federation’s responsibility to devolve relevant powers to the local bodies.

Currently, the clause only restricts provinces to devolve their administrative, political and financial powers to their local bodies and spares the federation.

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The committee noted the Constitution Amendment Bill 2015 (Substitution of Clause (1) of Article 140-A) seeks to make the amendment to enable the residents of ICT and cantonments to enjoy their constitutional rights.

The independent senator said, “Currently, the Constitution is silent on forcing the federal government to devolve its financial, administrative and political powers to its elected representatives. How can someone expect to get the powers automatically?”

Leghari said after the amendment bill was passed unanimously, it was the responsibility of the federal government to take up the bill.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2016.

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