Public-private partnerships: Desperate CDA seeks approval from cabinet

Proposed amendments to the CDA ordinance being submitted, again.


Danish Hussain July 14, 2013
The new chairman is under intense pressure to reform the civic agency and needs to get the ordinance passed without any delay. PHOTO: FILE.

ISLAMABAD:


The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is all set to resubmit the draft of proposed amendments to the CDA Ordinance 1960 to the federal cabinet. The changes proposed primarily aim to empower the civic body to hold joint ventures with private companies for various development projects in the city.


CDA Chairman Nadeem Hassan Asif confirmed to The Express Tribune that the authority was in the process of resubmitting the draft amendments to the 1960 ordinance, saying the civic body would adopt the same procedure it undertook in 2012.



“The draft will be submitted with the federal cabinet as an ordinance rather than an act of parliament. Ultimately, after the ordinance’s expiry, it will be taken to parliament for endorsement,” informed Asif.

Documents available with The Express Tribune reveal that prior to approving the draft in 2012, the federal cabinet had asked the CDA to introduce the proposed amendments as a legislative bill rather than an ordinance. However, the authority took a plea of urgency and thus proposed passing it as an ordinance, which takes a relatively shorter time in going through the various corridors of bureaucracy.

On May 24, 2012, the federal cabinet approved the proposed amendments and the draft was later submitted to the president for promulgation of the Ordinance. For unknown reasons, the president did not sign it and thus the entire process got delayed.



The new chairman is under intense pressure to reform the civic agency and needs to get the ordinance passed without any delay.

Currently, the ordinance does not allow public-private ventures, which officials believe are a proven success model across the world.

“On one hand, the amendment will close the door for corruption, while on the other, it will help kick-start several stalled development projects,” commented a senior CDA official.

Draft of Amendments

The draft amendment, available with The Express Tribune, provides several new clauses in some sub-sections.

The formation of a Public-Private Partnership Cell has been proposed. The cell would consist of CDA officers as well as officials of other local bodies, agencies and “may also include representative(s) from the Finance Department and independent technical and legal experts”, the documents state. The cell will recommend suitable ventures and oversee bidding and other technical processes of projects.

The proposed Section 33C of the ordinance will empower the CDA to withdraw already acquired land. It reads, “The authority shall be at liberty to withdraw from the acquisition of any land, through issuance of a written notification at any time prior to taking possession, where the authority has not paid compensation because of any reason or the authority considers that the land is no longer required for the scheme it was acquired for.”

“Currently, the CDA owes approximately Rs36 billion as compensation to landowners from whom it acquired land. A huge chunk of these lands are of no use to us, which is why we are trying to get rid of this debt,” commented a senior official.

City managers had sought the aforementioned amendments in the CDA Ordinance on grounds that the authority does not have the financial resources to develop new sectors on self-finance basis as it already owes huge amounts over land it acquired in the past.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.

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