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Punjab govt yet to notify change in local govt system

Although the PML-N candidate for mayor was elected unopposed in the garrison city, the Punjab government has yet to notify the changing of the Rawal Town Municipal Administration (RTMA) to the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) and District Council.

Confusion about the changing system persists among government departments under the authority of the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) and the district’s new administration, while the Punjab government remains tight-lipped about its plan.

The CDGR is presently led by the district coordination officer (DCO), but under the new plan, the deputy commissioner will lead the district administration and the district council chairman will be the head of administration for rural areas, while the city’s mayor will lead the administration of the city’s urban areas.

Mayor, deputy mayor will not be able to begin work until change in the system has been notified

However, a senior CDGR official told Dawn the change in system has not been notified. “It will take a few months to change the system in Rawalpindi, since the local government elections have not been completed yet – the district council chairman and the vice chairman have to be elected,” he said.

“The election for district council chairman and vice chairman was stopped due to a stay order from the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench, and the election commission has not yet announced the schedule,” he added,

The official said after the election of the head of the district council, the system in the Rawalpindi district will be replaced. “Although the mayor will take the oath of his office on Dec 31, he will not do any work until the system is changed.”

Under the 2013 Local Government Act, the Punjab government will separate the departments of education, health, environment, agriculture, social welfare, community development, labour, industry, cooperative and others from the district government.

However, a senior official said preparation in this regard has not yet begun. “The meeting to separate the CDGR’s assets was not held, as no directive came from the provincial government,” he said.

The Punjab government has sought details about the total number of employees at the CDGR, its accounts, available balance and liabilities. “The details will be given to the provincial government in the second week of January,” the official said.

He said that the separation of the RTMA was easy as it has separate assets and administration under the control of the Rawal Town administrator.

However, he said confusion arose regarding the district administration and about 15 urban union councils in Potohar Town, as the government had begun taxing these union councils but they will still be considered rural areas with regards to administrative control.

“We have completed the homework and are waiting for the Punjab government’s notification to change the RTMA’s name to the RMC,” Rawal Town Administrator Nazia Parveen Sudhan told Dawn.

She said the elected mayor and deputy mayor will take oath on Dec 31, but will not begin working until a notification of the change in systems is issued by the government.

She said the administration is waiting for the notification so it can hand over charge to the elected officials. Ms Sudhan said the Rawal Town administrator will be appointed additional district collector general or additional deputy commissioner general after the change.

However, she added that no directives have been received in black and white yet. “Maybe the government will issue the notification a day or two before the oath-taking ceremony,” she suggested.

When contacted, Executive District Officer (EDO) Education Qazi Zahoorul Haq said there had been reports that the education department would be changed to the education authority as the provincial government is planning to hand over the system to the new administration.

He said: “The education authority will look after the affairs of government-run schools and government school teachers. A politician will be appointed chairman while the EDO education will become the chief executive officer of the authority.”

A separate authority will also be formed for health, but no directives have been received from the provincial government about the new system. “We gave details about employees and the suggestion of a health authority to the provincial government last year, but no directives have been received yet,” said EDO Health Dr Arshad Ali Sabir.

Source: Dawn

Byline: Aamir Yasin

December 14, 2016

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