The government tabled The Punjab Local Government (PLG) Bill 2013 in the provincial assembly on Friday. The bill was referred to the special committee No 2.
The third session of the assembly began at 11:37am on Friday- it was scheduled to start at 9am. Acting Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Khan Gorchani presided over the session.
The treasury also introduced three bills including the Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture Multan Bill 2013, The Punjab Boilers and Pressure Vessels Bill 2013 and The Punjab Animals Slaughter Control Bill 2013. The Punjab Police Order (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 was also laid before the PA.
Local Government Minister Rana Sanaullah presented the PLG Bill 2013. A 12-member committee was formed to deliberate on the bill and report to the House. The committee will meet from Monday to Thursday.
Sanaullah talked about the government’s objectives in introducing the bill. He said under the rules of procedure, the committee should comprise 12 members but all PA members were welcome to give their input on the matter. The committee was given four days to come up with recommendations.
He said that the media and the civil society too could give their input to the committee. All inputs would be appreciated, he said. General discussion on the bill will be held from Monday to Thursday.
Sanaullah said that the government wanted to form a local government system that incorporated suggestions from all stakeholders. He requested members to join the committee’s proceedings and share their insights. He said the law would be made through consensus of the House and by incorporating suggestions of the committee.
He said that the Supreme Court had directed the PA to complete legislation by August 15. He said that the Bill would be passed in a session convened before Eid. “If the committee needs more than four days for its deliberations, it would only be given one or two more days,” said Sanaullah.
Leader of the Opposition Mian Mehmoodur Rashid said that the bill should not have been rushed. That would not help the people of the Punjab, he said. He noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling constrained the House to pass the bill in a hurry. “The government’s assurance to incorporate the opposition’s proposals is welcome,” he said.
Rashid said that the original draft violated Article 140-A of the Constitution. He said while under the 18th Amendment, several powers and departments had been devolved to the provinces, the Punjab government had showed reluctance to devolve power to the grassroots level. He said that the opposition would try to improve the law in the spirit of the Constitution.
The 12-member committee comprises eight members from the government and four from the opposition. Chaudhry Abdul Razzaq Dhillon has been made convener of the committee.
Rashid told The Express Tribune that the four opposition members of the committee had decided to call an All Parties Conference in the coming week to discuss the Bill. He said that the committee includes members of the Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Peoples Party.
He said that former district nazims, tehsil nazims, lawyers, representatives of the civil society and professionals would be invited to give their input. They would then form a joint strategy on the PLG Bill, he said. He said they would also invite Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to the APC. He said Rana Sanaullah had promised in the business advisory meeting that their suggestions would be included in the bill.
The speaker adjourned the session till Monday morning.
Local Government: Each Province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.