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Grassroots governance: Interim finance body to disburse LG funds

Punjab government has decided to make the local governments functional in the province by transferring funds through an interim provincial finance commission (PFC) award.

The government has decided to announce a PFC award for timely disbursement of funds to new local bodies under the provisions of the Punjab Local Government Act, 2013, said Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had constituted an interim committee comprising different stakeholders. A technical group was formed under the committee in which Punjab Finance Department officials and international consultants were given representation.

After detailed consultations, the committee formulated its recommendations and proposed disbursement of funds as per the requirements of local governments, Ayesha told The Express Tribune.

Funds for the education sector would be provided on the basis of population, number of children in schools and on the streets and the number of female students enrolled in secondary schools. As per the proposed formula, share of southern Punjab in provincial resources would increase, she pointed out.

Funds, the finance minister revealed, would be released to the district health authorities on the basis of the population between nine and 65 years, female population aged between 15 years and 49 years and the rate of poverty.

The formula was devised considering the fact that children, senior citizens and women where main users of healthcare facilities. Secondary distribution of funds would be made in consultation with relevant departments.

The interim PFC award was prepared on the basis of the 1998 census and 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data. The committee had sent its recommendations to the chief minister for formal approval.

The local government elections process would be completed in Punjab after issuance of notification of the returned candidates on December 28. Public representatives elected in the final phase would take oath of their offices on December 31.

The agony of local government representatives, who have been awaiting powers and resources for over 12 months, would reduce after the formation of new local governments. But critics argue the real tug of war would start once these public representatives would reach their offices.

Many say the provincial government has made these grassroots-level democratic institutions useless by snatching their powers. Most local government functions have been transferred to the provincial government’s departments and authorities.

Source: The Express Tribune

Byline: Correspondent

December 21, 2016

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