Local government, challenges, strategies, & the Way Forward Speakers call for administrative, financial powers to local govt for sustainable growth

Zubair Qureshi

Participants of a webinar on “Local government, challenges, strategies, & the Way Forward” termed administrative, financial powers to local governments of vital importance to achieve sustainable growth.

The webinar was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Addressing on the occasion Joint Executive Director of SDPI Dr Vaqar Ahmed said, “We have moved away from the ideal and are willing to settle for less than desired local govt models.’

This has happened because local governments serve limited rather than community-wide objectives.

We should also discuss how the usual election process has been disturbed by Covid-19 and how institutions like us as a coalition of change should help shape political will in favour of renewable energy efforts.

Secretary Local Government South Punjab Baluch was of the view our broader framework, the constitution, gives the directive to politically empower local government but lacks any elaboration.

Establishing this local government must be made binding. Political will is missing for this cause. The fate of these local government depends on the ruling party’s mandate.

Therefore, laws and frameworks change according to whoever is in power. Community-growth development is the key function of local governments but because of a lack of awareness and trainings on the role and function, there is a great discrepancy between theory and practice of the services local governments carry out.

Executive Director of Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) Zahid Islam said the biggest challenge was ambiguity in the legal framework, there is no binding law or enforcement for establishing and conducting local government activities.

Conditionality is added for approval from provincial authorities. Secondly, there is a needed devolution of power, usually local governments work under provincial government and are not delegated their relevant duties, but rather parallel bodies are created within the provincial government.

Lack of a concrete and clear legal framework and devolution of power within the government structure.

There is no political will. Ethnic conflict within provinces such as Sindh also contribute to this issue.

These local governments also do not have any steady revenue source and thus are dependent on grants.

To solve this, firstly we need constitutional amendments. For example, in the Indian Constitution two separate constitutional clauses outline their function, revenue streams and duty descriptions.

We do not have this, rather in article 32 we only give the principle for local governments but do not lay out a proper legal framework.

Taking participation in the discussion, Amna Zaidi said the common problem identified so far was lack of political will.

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