Power grab: ‘Provincial govts big hurdle for local govts’

Speakers at a consultation say local govts need constitutional cover.

Our Correspondent July 25, 2014

LAHORE: “Provincial governments are the greatest hurdle towards constituting local governments. There will be no future for local governments till they get constitutional safeguards,” said civil society activist Salman Abid said on Friday.

He was speaking at a consultation on Local Government in Punjab: Problems and Projects, at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Abid said that local government elections would not be held for at least a year and a half in the Punjab.

He said lawmakers wanted to carry out development work in their constituencies themselves. “If they takeover that responsibility, what would the local governments do?” He said the government needed to define the roles assigned to the provincial and local governments. “Without constitutional cover, holding local government elections would just not be possible,” Abid said.

Civil society activist Zahid Malik said over the last few years, the number of stakeholders in local governments had increased manifold. Yet the provincial governments were not willing to allow local governments to work.

Malik said that the model for local government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was “simply the worst”.  Local governments were not third government tiers in several countries, yet they functioned well, he said.

HRCP Secretary General IA Rehman said the local government system was introduced in the subcontinent in the late 19th century. Yet it did not work well in Pakistan, he said.

“This is because Pakistan has not evolved on the matter of local governments.”

Several participants of various civil society organisations and non-government organisations participated in the consultation. The speakers suggested that points raised in the consultation could be sent to relevant authorities as feedback from the civil society.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2014.

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