The future mayors and chairmen under the proposed local government system will have a strict oversight by the district and provincial administration, with the chief minister likely to retain an “iron-hand” on the “unruly” ones as well, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Insiders reveal that the new local government system is almost contrary to the Musharraf-era local government ordinance, which gave unlimited financial and administrative powers to town and district nazims.
They believe the new system will revive the office of the deputy commissioner (except for the magisterial powers) who will maintain a complete oversight on the elected mayor (for cities) and chairman (for rural areas).
The bifurcation of urban and rural areas within the same district will further undermine these elected offices in the face of the “strong” DC backed by the provincial government.
“Another mechanism for maintaining a check on the unruly mayors and chairmen is the Punjab local government commission, which can always ‘recommend’ action against them upon receiving ‘complaints’.
The CM will be the ultimate authority to decide their fate, to ensure the local governments remain within the executive authority of the government,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity.
The provision of the special audit of the spending of these offices also lies with the provincial government through its Local Government Department.
Official sources, however, maintained that the urban-rural divide introduced in the new system was its hallmark, while the “nitty-gritty” of the system was still being deliberated upon.
According to further details, the urban side of every district will have municipal committees/corporations, while the rural side comprising a zila council.
For cities, people will elect councillors from wards who will be members of the municipal corporation and elect a mayor from among themselves.
Voters will elect a chairman in the union councils for rural areas, while a zila council chairman will be elected by the chairmen of UCs.
They will have powers over municipal functions including water, sanitation, fumigation, etc, all of which have already been defined.
The sources further maintained that the government also planned to remove executive district officers (EDOs) of education and health and establish district health and education committees in their stead.
Stakeholders, however, rap the Punjab regime for moving towards a centralist setup confining all powers in the office of the chief minister and only dividing it up amongst bureaucrats below him.
“During the previous tenure, the government restored the office of the commissioner, while now the elected offices are being bifurcated compared to the office of DC, all to maintain own control,” a legal expert added.