LAHORE: Provincial Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Basharat Raja said the next Punjab budget would be presented in the new building of the Punjab Assembly as Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi has given special directives of the timely completion of the project.
Talking to a group of journalists on Friday, he said huge funds have been allocated in the budget for the new building of the Punjab Assembly as it was need of the hour keeping in view the total seating capacity of the assembly.
He said the Punjab Assembly was the largest house in the country with 371 members and the seating arrangement was a grave issue for MPAs. “The project of the new Punjab Assembly building was initiated when Pervez Elahi was the chief minister some 12 years ago but the previous government did not take any interest to complete the project. “Therefore Pervez Elahi will complete the project now when he has become the PA speaker,” said Raja, who had served as a minister in the cabinet of Elahi from 2003-2007.
Highlighting the salient features of the new local government system being introduced in the province, he said both the law and the LG departments were working rigorously to finalise the draft for the LG system and it would soon be presented in the assembly for legislation. Sharing some features of the new law, he said that union councils in the rural areas would be called as village councils while UCs in urban areas would be called as neighbourhood councils. Elections for these councils would be held on non-party basis and there would be six elected members in each council. The elections for mayors and deputy mayors in the cities would be held on the party basis, he added.
He said there would be no overlapping in the roles of provincial government, district council or neighbourhood or village council as their jurisdiction and functions would be defined clearly in the new law. Raja has also worked as minister for local governments in the past.
Raja said there has been an issue of overlapping in the LG system earlier because one single road used to be constructed separately by the union council, district council and the provincial government at the same time in the past. Now this problem would be addressed in the new LG system. He further said all the provincial departments were working hard to implement the 100-day plan given by Prime Minister Imran Khan as all the departments would brief him after the expiry of this deadline.
“Below the belt comments should not be used both by the treasury and opposition benches in order to run the affairs of the house smoothly,” the minister said. He said some MPAs from the opposition benches tried to attack the speaker and the staff of the assembly secretariat during the budget speech in the house which was highly condemnable.
“They damaged the property worth Rs900,000 that day in the unfortunate incident and this amount should be recovered from their salaries,” law minister concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2018.