The Punjab Assembly has given a legal cover to the third tier of the government – local governments – for five years by passing an amendment to the Local Government Act.
The House on Wednesday passed the amendment to the act by for continuation of the existing local governments across the province.
Law Minister while explaining the need of the amendment said that the local governments (LG), which were notified on January 2, 2017, could not be dissolved until January 2, 2022. Earlier, the local governments could be dissolved before the general elections as per omitted law.
Punjab Assembly session on Wednesday started an hour and four minutes late to its scheduled time with Speaker Rana Iqbal in the chair.
The House adopted Question Hour session about the Agriculture, Social Welfare and Baitul Maal departments, while Minister Naeem Bhabha and Parliamentary Secretary Ilyas Insari answered the concerned queries. Due to lack of quorum pointed out by the opposition, the proceedings were adjourned twice but the treasury succeeded to cover up.
To a query, Naeem Bhabha told the House that the Punjab government had started giving interest-free soft loans to farmers for establishing tunnel farming.
He said that loans would be given through the banks and the government would pay interest of Rs 110 million.
Later, during the government business, the House passed the Punjab Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2017 with a majority and strong resistance of the opposition benches to regulate the monitory system against the increasing menace of spurious, adulterated and substandard drugs.
Opposing the amendments to the bill, opposition member Dr Nosheen Hamid said that without having the right of issuance of licences to pharmaceutical companies and laboratories, quality control issue couldn’t be resolved. She also criticised the government for obliging a blacklisted pharmaceutical company owner, who was allegedly involved in the PIC drug killings scandal and appointing him on an important post in the province.
The House also passed a bill approving establishment of the Punjab Land Records Authority. According to the bill, the authority shall be a body corporate with power to enter into agreements, acquire and hold movable and immovable property and it can constitute its regional office as well as land record centres. According to the bill, the authority will maintain land record and manage technical cooperation with foreign organisations, and international inter-governmental organisations.
The House also endorsed another bill to upgrade the Home Economic College Lahore to a university by passing the University of Home Economics Lahore Bill 2016.
Opposition member Dr Murad Rass while opposing the bill said that the government was going to grant the status of the university to the college by appointing former principal of the same college as the vice chancellor.
“Once given the university status, fees will be increased manifold just like what happened in the case of Lahore College University for Girls and the Government College University,” he added.
Hussain, Kashif. Amended act gives legal cover to LGs until 2022. Daily Times, February 9, 2017.