Karachi—Instead of giving the credit to Supreme Court for ordering the Local Government elections in the country, the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah took the entire credit to his administration, saying it was the will of the PPP government that the local bodies elections were held in Karachi, otherwise there was strong opposition for the purpose for certain reasons, including law and order.
His predecessor Qaim Ali Shah had been sitting over the issue for months and years together. The last local bodies term expired in 2010, and since then for six years, the Sindh government just dilly-dallied over the subject, completely unwilling to part with power. The apex court finally ordered that municipal tiers being the essential pillar of the administration, elections for local government should be at the earliest.
Addressing a seminar on Local Government System organized by Local Government Department here at the Banquet Hall of CM House Saturday, Murad Ali Shah, however thought otherwise. The seminar was attended by all the chairmen and vice chairmen of local councils, deputy mayor Karachi and other concerned.
He said that there was strong opposition to hold local bodies elections in the city. “No doubt the law and order situation was precarious at that time, certain socio-political issues had emerged,” he said and added “it was political commitment and will of PPP government in Sindh that the local bodies elections became possible in Karachi,” he said.
Syed Murad Ali Shah added that the present Local Government Act 2013 has been passed by Sindh Assembly, and there is public will and wisdom into it, that’s why everyone gives it ownership, otherwise all the previous local government laws were imposed by the dictators with the objectives to strengthen their position by eroding the authority and writ of the provincial government.
He said that he was taking necessary steps to strengthen local bodies so that public issues could be solved at gross root level. “The local government department mandate is to provide support to the local councils in the areas of administration, finance and human resource management.” He said added the process of relocation of staff, distribution of assets and liabilities, distribution of OZT share and posting of staff in the newly created local councils at the completion stage,” he said.
It may be noted that there are 1,744 local councils in the province, of them 1,199 are in the rural areas and rest in the urban areas. There are one metropolitan corporation, nine municipal corporations, 37 municipal committees, 147 town committees, 351 union committees in the Urban areas and 24 district councils and 1,175 union councils.
The chief minister clarified that the local councils have to work under the overall supervision of Sindh Government as per legal framework provided in the Act of 2013. He added that without financial viability, the local councils could deliver the desired results, therefore they would have to take initiatives for the generation of resources and create efficient system of check and balance internally.
He announced that the Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) has been constituted and notified by the government. “The PFC is a recommendatory body and have the mandate to make recommendations to the government for distribution of funds and other matters relating to finances of the local councils,” he said.
Talking about finances of the local councils, chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that in the budget 2016-17, the Octroi & Zila Tax (OZT) share has been enhanced from Rs47 billion to Rs60 billion. “More than Rs37.731 billion have been provided in ADP of local government,” he said and added “More grants have also been provided for settlement of electricity dues and pension liabilities of local government.”
Syed Murad Ali Shah vowed to provide extra funds for construction of new buildings, repair and renovation of existing building and vehicles for chairman and vice chairman up to town committee level.