Vibrant ‘LG System’ to help resolve masses problems at their doorsteps

Seeing through the history, the local government system existed in the country since its creation but the dream of fully empowering local governments remained unfulfilled due to exploiting local governments for their gains by respective regimes.

75

ISLAMABAD: Efficient public service delivery is not possible without following the evolved mechanism given in the Constitution for empowerment of the elected ‘Local Government’ representatives to serve public and resolve their issues at the grassroots.’

Most of the nations have evolved respective systems to reach out to public and to serve them at their doorsteps to improve their living standards through the elected local body representatives. Therefore, de-centralization becomes a key for not only efficient service delivery but also paving way for real democracy by nurturing grassroots political activity.

Pakistan is also not an exception to this style of government as article 140A of the constitution seeks devolution of power empowering the representatives at local level. Article 140A states: “Each Province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.”

Seeing through the history, the local government system existed in the country since its creation but the dream of fully empowering local governments remained unfulfilled due to exploiting local governments for their gains by respective regimes.

After the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment, the article 140A casts mandatory responsibility on provinces to ensure the empowerment of the local bodies with political and financial authority.

This responsibility on the provinces to empower local governments had also increased manifold after they were given the major share in national resources under National Finance Commission as well as autonomy to strengthen local government system in their respective domain.

President Local Council Association, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chapter and Mayor of Mardan, Himayat Ullah Mayar said, “Under the Article 140A of the Constitution, all the provincial governments were bound to conduct LB elections and handover political, management and financial powers to the elected local representatives.”

He said the LCA was formed for local government representation (representing the whole country) to share good practices of the LG system and safeguard rights of the local representatives.

“It was mandatory for the provincial governments and ECP to hold local government elections on time as enshrined in the Election Act 2017 Section 219 (Subsection-4),” Mayar said.

He pleaded that the LB system had a vital role in sustainable development, vibrant democracy, prosperity, effective governance, easy access to public and efficient service delivery. “Besides strengthening the democratic institutions, the system also plays the role of a nursery for creating true leadership.”

Devolution of power was always contended as respective ruling parties were found reluctant to devolve complete set of powers to local level. Then there had been the issue of party or non-party based local government elections.

In this case, if the majority of local government representatives win from a party that does not have provincial government, these representatives are often complaining of hiccups by provincial government in dispensation of their financial and administrative responsibilities.

In some cases lawmakers were enriched to look after the development work of their respective constituencies. This tendency not only restricted the role of local governments representatives but also surged the role of the Deputy Commissioners and Commissioners.

However, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was credited to hold local bodies elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, leading over the other provinces. Whatever the results in the first phase, the party accepted with open heart and is moving forward for the second phase to materialize the dream of putting in place true democratic system for better service delivery.

“There should be unhindered continuity of this system as it guarantees sustainable development and resolution of masses problems at their doorstep,” remarked Ex-Tehsil Nazim Batagram, Niaz Muhammad Khan.

“The LG system is the primary unit of democracy. It not only provides as a nursery for provincial and national level leadership but also ensure speedy dispensation of services needed at grassroots,” he added. Niaz Khan contested that local level development projects and schemes must be executed through local governments instead of member provincial assemblies who owe the responsibility of legislation and policy guidelines and framework.

 

He said most of the developed countries had vibrant LG systems as it is the basic unit of democracy and local governments had demonstrated a rapid response to handle crisis-like-situations during 2005 earthquake.

Independent experts also see much room for improvement in this system to make it compatible to the everyday emerging needs of the people.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency (PILDAT) has said that local governments was the best system for service delivery at grassroots.

“But, what we need is constitutional guarantee for continuity of local governments to protect these institutions from arbitrary decisions,” he said and pleaded further clarification of constitutional provisions regarding decentralization of financial and administrative powers.

“Therefore, a constitutional chapter is required to specify the areas where the local system could operate without any political interference,” he stated.

On the basis of historical accounts and various academic debates, the local body system still needs empowerment. The first and the foremost step is to look beyond political expediencies— suiting what is best for Pakistan and not what suits the vested interests.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Newsletter
close-link