KARACHI: Instead of giving more powers to mayors and other representatives of the local governments (LGs), Sindh government has decided to amend the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 to insert provision of removing the LG representatives on certain ‘charges’ including that of inciting terrorism and graft.
In this connection, Sindh cabinet meeting will be convened today (Thursday). This will be the second cabinet meeting in a week.
Official sources said other issues like Sindh Essential Commodities Price Control and Prevention of Profiting and Boarding Bill and Amendment in Code of Criminal Procedure for making DNA testing in rape cases will also be discussed in the meeting.
“The powers of mayor are important in the current scenario; however, after the provincial government’s proposed amendments a sword of Damocles will be hanging over their heads,” said a senior LG official while referring to the cabinet meeting.
According to the summary prepared by LG department, the removal of elected representatives including mayors through non-confidence motion is already available in Local Government Law 2013, but there is no provision to dismiss/remove mayor under charges of terrorism or inciting violence.
The proposed amendment is being made in section 25 of Sindh local government law.
Another amendment is also proposed to exempt chairman of union councils, union committees or town committees from vote of no-confidence. If approved, the vote of no-confidence will not apply to UCs and town committee chairmen.
“In the incumbent LG law, the vote of no-confidence can be brought against all elected representative of local bodies. The mayor and deputy mayor are elected by the councils; therefore no confidence motion can be moved against them.
“[However,] chairmen of UCs are directly elected by voters/people, so it is not logical to bring vote of no confidence against them. The amendment is being made to exempt them from this exercise,” says the summary.
Mayor Karachi Wasim Akhtar expressed disappointment over the decision and said, “Sindh government is unwilling to give powers to LGs; therefore such decisions are made.” He said they would approach the court if such provision was inserted and the law was amended.
“There seems to be some political motives behind it,” he said, adding that irrespective of all hurdles, he would continue working in Karachi. The LGs and their elected representatives are already toothless in Sindh and the have no financial powers and executing authority for development projects.
Akhtar is already struggling to regain the powers as the provincial government has also put the municipal services including removal of solid waste from the city under its domain.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2017.
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