LG polls in Karachi may be conducted in two phases: EC official

KARACHI: Due to lack of security personnel, Sindh Local Government (LG) Elections may take place in further two phases, said Ali Asghar Sial, Joint Provincial Election Comm-issioner here on Monday.

He was addressing in a Stakeholders’ dialogue organized by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in collaboration with Freidrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Pakistan (FNF) at a local hotel.

He said a proposal in conducting election in remaining districts of Sindh in two phases is under consideration.

During the dialogue, speakers urged the Sindh Government to strengthen the LG system in Sindh and commence the second phase of LG elections without further delay.

The dialogue was attended by MPAs, lawyers, local government elected representatives, representative of Election Commission and media reflected upon the existing status of local governments in Sindh, lacunas in the Act, challenges and way forward for the improvements.

While addressing the dialogue Syed Hafeez Uddin, a senior politician and lawyer from PSP, said that the Clause 112 of the Sindh Local Government Act makes it is compulsory for the provincial government to issue the provincial finance commission (PFC) award every four years and distribute financial share to all districts and local government agencies from provincial revenue as per the formula.

However, the provincial government has failed to finalize the procedure for distribution of provincial revenue in the past 15 years. The issue must be resolved immediately on the pattern of NFC.

Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) MPA Shaharyar Khan Mahar said that an empowered local government system in accordance with Article 140-A of the Constitution is need of the hour.

He further stated that Sindh Government is not committed to implement the Local Government Act 2013 in true letter and spirit. LGs has primary role of planning and managing all aspects of the disasters and floods but Sindh government was unable to deal with the relief and rehabilitation due to the absence of empowered LGs.

Former federal minister and senior politician Raza Haroon emphasized on the need of a constitutional amendment for the protection of Local Governments as a third tier of government.

India has the best LG system and Pakistan should replicate their best LG practices in Pakistan, Raza said, adding that Karachi lacks a unified command structure.

KMC functioning as the city’s municipality doesn’t have control over the entire metropolis. Its jurisdiction lays over only 30% of the Karachi, he regretted.

Unity of command for the metropolitan and district government as far as municipal and civic functions under the Mayor or Chairman should be inserted in Chapter 4 of the constitution.

Civil society and political leadership of Karachi should mount campaign of strong and empowered local government in conjunction with the Sindhi Leadership, said Dr Kaisar Bengali, senior economist.

Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, Executive Director CPDI said that a diploma program in local government and administration was started in Karachi University in 2013 but later without giving any reason, the admissions to the diploma program was stopped. Instead of expanding the program university stopped the enrolments. Such initiatives should be replicated in other education institution instead of revoking. He also demanded the reasonable representation of women in Provincial Local Government Commission of Sindh and PFC. At-least one women may be given representation as member of the PLGC on gender equity mainstreaming basis, said Mukhtar.

MQM Member Provincial Assembly, Mangla Sharma said that no one can deny the importance of local governments but the elections must be held after delimitation. She also emphasized on the need of making LGs more inclusive for women, PWDs and religious minorities.

Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) 2013 should be amended to include complaint cell at the level of the local government. Due to non-availability of such provision in the act people are approaching the complaint cell established at federal government level, says Abdul Nasir Siddiqui, Director Sindh Services and Local Government Academy.

A democracy cannot flourish without local governments. LGs are nurseries for all democratic structures. Strong, decisive, dedicated and committed leadership emerges from elected local government systems, said Prof Dr. Noman Ahmed, Dean NED University Karachi while addressing the dialogue.

Birgit Lamm, head of Friedrich Naumann Foundation Pakistan said that Local Government is very important as it deals with service delivery issues of citizens and it’s a tier where citizens witness governance on a day to day basis.

“But the topic of LGs is not owned by all the stakeholders. An empowered and effective LG system should be a priority of all stakeholders.”

Published in Business Recorder, November 08, 2022