PESHAWAR: The proposed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Local Government (LG) Bill 2013 purposefully incorporates a section which ensures political and bureaucratic interference in the affairs of district governments.
Section 64 of the proposed LG Bill, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, reads, “The chief minister (CM) may himself, or through any officer specifically authorised by him, issue directives in public interest to a district council nazim. Upon failure of implementation, the CM will require the chief secretary to take necessary action.”
This section was not included in the previous local government act passed by the assembly back in 2012. The then government of Awami National Party had scrapped the system introduced by former president Pervez Musharraf in 2001.
K-P Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Israrullah Gandapur told The Express Tribune under Section 5 of the proposed law, the local government would operate within the framework of the provincial government, therefore, this section does not impinge the local government system.
After the provincial cabinet approved the draft on Friday, an assembly session was called on Monday (today) to discuss the proposed bill.
The new LG draft has done away with words such as municipal corporations, district councils, wards in urban areas and union councils in rural areas which were included in the law passed by the last assembly.
The new draft espouses city district government for Peshawar, district government for each district other than Peshawar, tehsil municipal administration and town municipal administration under city district government, village council for a village in rural areas and neighbourhood council for a neighbourhood in areas with urban characteristics.
The village and neighbourhood councils, previously known as union council and wards, respectively, are grassroot level local government structures under the proposed local bodies system.
Interestingly, the new system will bring the government face to face with the difficult issue of delimitation of village and neighbourhood councils.
While in the previous system there were over 950 union councils across the province, the new law envisages establishing 3,500 villages and neighbourhood councils across the province.
The proposed draft has also scrapped office titles of local government functionaries like district council’s chairman and municipal corporation’s mayor and instead reverted back to the Musharraf-era titles: city nazim, district nazim and naib nazims.
Village and neighbourhood councils shall be composed of 10 to 15 members. Five to 10 among them will be Muslims, two women elected on reserved seats, one member elected on reserved seats for the youth and one member elected on reserved seat for non-Muslims.
Interestingly, unlike any previous system, the new draft proposes that candidates securing the highest and second highest number of votes in elections of general seats in the councils will be given the position of nazim and naib nazim, respectively, of the concerned councils.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2013.