Body To Review SLGO-2001

Restoration of commissioner system in Sindh on the cards

* Body formed to recommend changes in LG system


By Jamil Khan | KARACHI


THE Sindh government on Friday notified a committee to recommend changes in the local government system. The chairman of the committee will be the local government minister.

The law minister, secretaries Law and Services SGA&CD and additional advocate general Sindh will work as its members, while the local government additional chief secretary will be its secretary.

The committee will examine legal, administrative, financial and institutional aspects of the existing local government system under SLGO 2001 and recommend amendments on the legal and institutional framework with a special focus on restoration of divisional commissionerate system, the notification added.

The issue of the local government system finally seems to be nearing its end, as President Asif Ali Zardari has directed that an amended bill be presented in the parliament for changes in the local government system, emphasising on the need for reducing the administrative and financial powers of the local governments.

The directives of the President finally laid to rest rumours of the dissolvment of the local government system, which had been gaining momentum for in recent times. A major reason behind the delay in a decision by the government was the heavy criticism from some quarters, especially the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a partner in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led coalition. MQM had expressed reservations over the proposed abolishment of the Local Government Ordinance 2001, however, stating that it would be fine with changes in the system.

In a recent interview, MQM-backed City Nazim Mustafa Kamal made it clear that the powers of the commissioner system should be given to the existing DCOs and the working relationship within the local government system should be improved.

Although, many parties had pointed out the lax implementation of the ordinance, neither the previous government, nor the current government had taken notice, with the present one going a step further, by deciding that curtailment of powers will be the first major amendment in the system introduced by former president Pervez Musharraf in 2001.

The Sindh Local Government Ordinance 2001 (SLGO 2001) is a document comprising a total of 20 chapters, 230 sections, 755 sub-sections, 290 clauses, 24 sub-clauses, 118 provisions and 10 explanations cover all sectors three tiers of the government, including district, town/taluka and union councils.

Experts on the SLGO 2001, while talking to Daily Times, stated that had the system been properly applied, there would have been no complaints and need for changes. “The document covers all sectors, while comprising of measures for devolving political power and decentralizing administrative and financial authority,” said one of the experts. He said that it had been planned that the 33 major civic departments will be handed over to the local governments, including health, transport, education, infrastructure development and social sector, but still many departments are under the provincial government and have not been handed over to the city governments.

“In Karachi, a number of departments such as civil defense, fisheries, labour, technical education, environment and some parts of the transport sector are yet to be handed over to the City District Government Karachi (CDGK),” he said. The expert added that the SLGO 2001 has given extraordinary powers to the city, town and UC administrations but most of the members are still unaware of their limits, causing major inconveniences.

“The city government, through the SLGO 2001, has the powers to run their respective tiers efficiently and even impose new taxes, creating new vacancies, adopt measures for improvement of services, bring changes in the town administrations, prepare their own budgets, create more revenue sources and much more,” he said.

The only restrain on the local governments is regarding the increase in members of town, UC and city councils, for which the provincial government’s permission was compulsory.

However, a few members of the treasury benches expressed uncertainty over whether the curtailment of powers is the right decision.

– Published in Daily Times | Dec 06, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on December 6, 2008.

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