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Rules for local bodies: Representatives concerned over being left out of the loop

Chairmen and mayors are concerned about not being taken on board by the provincial government over the preparation of rules for local bodies, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The provincial government is in the process of preparing more amendments to the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 and preparing business rules for local bodies.

Among the under-consideration amendments was the decision to increase the number of deputy mayors in the city and deputy chairs in some district councils. Also being considered is the preparation of the rules of business for the aforesaid act, said a senior member of the provincial government.

Chief Minister’s Adviser Khawaja Ahmad Hassan said the mayor and chairmen would not be given the complete powers in the District Health Authority and in District Education Authority. He said the purpose of these bodies was to operate autonomously and independently, adding the chairmen would be selected on merit.

Special Assistant to Chief Minister for Information and Culture and Spokesperson of the provincial government, MPA Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, said rules of the Civil Administration Ordinance and rules for the Punjab Local Government Act are being drafted. He added that with all this done, the local government representatives will able to thoroughly understand this new system.

He added that chairmen and mayors would be a briefed by the end of month to give them a better understanding of the system.

Earlier, before the local bodies’ elections, Senior Advisor to Chief Minister Khawaja Ahmad Hassan said local body representatives, after assuming power, would be consulted on matters related to grass-roots administration.

He added they would be consulted before drafting any legislation. However, these elected members have not even been called for a formal meeting with the chief minister, let alone consultations. Mayors and chairmen are trying to gain a clear understanding of the system on their own. They remain largely ignorant about the local government’s workings, especially when it comes to matters related to the use and release of funds.

One of the chairmen, requesting anonymity, said the elected representatives were unaware of the rules and regulations on use of the funds.

He added that they were waiting for the government to call and brief them about the new system. “We have a lot of reservations about powers and other matters. The authorities should have kept us in the loop,” he added.

Another chairman said Lahore’s matters are given preferences over other cities and districts of the province. Some elected members of Lahore had the opportunity to meet the chief minister, while others were just given false assurances, he said.

The Punjab Chief Minister’s Office confirmed that CM Shehbaz Sharif has not met local government representatives, except for the mayor and deputy mayor of Lahore. No schedule for a meeting was confirmed.

Khan, Rameez. Rules for local bodies: Representatives concerned over being left out of the loop. The Express Tribune, January 11, 2017.

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