Consultative discussion: ‘Elect local bodies, to better serve the common man’

Published: September 28, 2011
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Parliamentarians rally in favour of local government system.

Parliamentarians rally in favour of local government system.

ISLAMABAD: 

Participants at a consultative discussion on Tuesday urged the provincial governments to hold the local body elections at the earliest. This, in their view, would help in addressing the problems of the common man.

The national roundtable consultation on “Elected Local Government: Revival and Reforms”, was jointly organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), SANGAT Foundation and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) on Wednesday.

Speaking at the occasion, Senator Hasil Bizenjo from Balochistan said that 90 per cent of the problems being faced by the common man are relevant to local governments (LG). He pointed out that due to absence of local bodies, funds worth Rs250 million under the Public Sector Development Program are given to each MPA in Balochistan, which are extensively misused by these parliamentarians.

“MPAs and MNAs don’t know the basic problems of the people at local level and it is the job of the local bodies to render community services,” said Bizenjo.

Senator Haji Adeel Ahmad of the Awami National Party however, said that his party supports local bodies but oppose the local government system of 2001, which violated provincial autonomy. He was of the view that it is very unfortunate that political parties were unable to pass local government bills in the provinces despite the promises they had made to people in the general elections.

He informed that a bill on the subject had already been tabled in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly and would be passed very soon.

Representing the ruling party, Nafisa Shah of the PPP, who had also served as a nazim during the Musharraf era, said that the LG system introduced by the former dictator was full of flaws. “The system did not have any sort of a political ownership and it had created divisions between urban and rural Sindh,” she said.

Provinces need to be sensitised for legislation on local governments first, she added. Kaisar Bengali, former advisor to the Sindh government, echoed similar views, saying that earlier, the system was deliberately designed to serve certain purposes.

The main force behind the delay in implementing the LG system, as explained by Governance Institutes Network International Advisor Danyal Aziz, was the political elite, as they do not want any competitors. “They fear the loss of political patronage and financial and administrative powers which may come after local representatives are given a chance to serve their respective areas,” he said.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Suleri also spoke in favour of the right to be served by local representatives, saying that local governance is a process which has to be sustained for positive changes within society. “One system might not suit all provinces, they (provinces) need to work on refining their systems by defining agreements and disagreements,” added.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2011.

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