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‘Constitution doesn’t allow provincial govt to run local bodies’

Labour leaders say Constitution defines local governments as a separate entity; oppose handing over garbage collection task to a firm, say local sanitary workers can carry out the job at half the cost Though the Constitution defines local governments as a separate entity and not an offshoot of a provincial government, mayors and chairpersons of town committees were compelled to work under the provincial local government minister, labour leaders said on Wednesday. The leaders of the Local Government Anti-Privatisation Committee, Zulfiqar Shah and Kaneez Fatima, while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club said the local bodies elections in Sindh were conducted under the Local Government Act, 2013, a law that stripped mayors and chairpersons of their powers. They said local governments were being run under a provincial minister in violation of the Constitution. A city’s mayor has to wait for the approval of the local government minister even for issue salaries to their employees, The representatives of local bodies did not even have the authority to launch cleanliness drives on their own. They said the defunct City District Government Karachi was established under the Sindh Local Bodies Ordinance of 2001 and it had greatly benefitted the city. They added that the citizens of Karachi would not be satisfied if their mayor lacked any authority at all. They further said the Article 140 A-1 of the Constitution read that each province would set up a local government system and devolve political administrative and financial responsibilities and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments. They questioned the utility and rationale of the third tier of the government if it had to be run by the provincial government which itself was the second tier of government under the Constitution. They said the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013 had made a mockery of the local government system as proposed under the Constitution. Practically, the provincial government does not even grant even some powers to the local bodies which they enjoyed under the local bodies law of 1979 passed under a martial law regime. The leaders said a mega city like Karachi could not be left to the whims and wishes of provincial ministers and demanded substantive powers for local bodies in particular for mayors. They said not only the Sindh Building Control Authority and the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, but police too should work under the mayor. The labour leaders said garbage collection was the function of the civic agencies and they would not allow the provincial government to hand over this function to a private company be it a local or a Chinese one. They said the government was giving a very large sum of money to a Chinese company for garbage collection while the sanitary workers of the local government had offered to do the job at half the cost yet their offer was not being accepted. They demanded a high-level probe into the issue so that the elements of corruption and kickbacks could be ruled out. They said Karachi would also have to pay more as the Chinese company would also charge for the plastic bags in which the garbage would be collected. They warned that they would stage a protest if the government did not accept their demands.

Citation: Report. ‘Constitution doesn’t allow provincial govt to run local bodies’. The News, January 5, 2017.

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