- Govt least interested in abolishing ministry as it had reinforced it by making Tariq Fazal Chaudhary CADD minister ahead of LG polls
By HAMID KHAN WAZIR
It appears as if the local government (LG) elections were a mere farce as the minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) is already calling all the shots in the capital.
After the much-needed LG system is established in the federal capital, the CADD has to be abolished since this ministry was formed after the passage of 18th constitutional amendment under a stop-gap arrangement, or else the whole electoral exercise would be of no good, as the elected mayor would only be a ‘titular head’.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaderships are of the view that the existence of CADD could adversely impact the functioning of the LG system.
Administration-wise, Islamabad’s governance system has always been criticised due to its multi-tier structure and the existing CADD ministry will further intricate the already perplexed matter.
Under the 18th constitutional amendment, the federal government had devolved 17 ministries, including education and health, to the federating units. The CADD ministry was then constituted to oversee the health and education affairs in the capital. But, with the LG set-up in place, the government will have to abolish the CADD ministry, as it would not only affect the functioning and performance of the elected representatives but also overlap the mandate of the minister and the mayor.
Nevertheless, the government is seemingly least interested in abolishing the ministry since it had reinforced it by giving the party’s local MNA, Tariq Fazal Chaudhary, the charge of state minister for CADD a few days ahead of the LG polls. The move had been widely seen as an attempt to influence the LG polls as the ruling party feared a defeat at the hands of the PTI.
Furthermore, the government shifted the Capital Development Authority (CDA) under the administrative control of the CADD from the Cabinet Division. Hence, under the law, the powers of the mayor have already been substantially decreased with a government-appointed chief officer (CO), who has been made responsible for “coordination, internal audit, human resource management, public relations, legal affairs and emergency services of the corporation”.
In other words, the CO will hold executive authority in the new democratic set-up. According to the Islamabad Local Governments Act, 2015, “the CO will ensure the business of the metropolitan corporation is carried out in accordance of law”.
According to the law, the mayor has been asked to “provide vision for the leadership and direction for efficient functioning of the metropolitan corporation in coordination with the government agencies”. Besides, presenting tax and budgetary proposals, devising a mechanism for accountability and oversight in municipal matters, overseeing the formulation and execution of annual development plan and delivery of services and functioning of the metropolitan corporation are among his responsibilities.
So, the law grants the federal government immense control over the metropolitan corporation and the ministry of CADD will further undermine the mayor’s powers.
Talking to Pakistan Today, PPP senator Farhatullah Babar said that the devolution process as a result of the 18th amendment had not been implemented in letter and spirit by the government.
He said that the LB elections in Islamabad and devolution of education and health would raise questions, adding that the PPP would raise the issue in parliament as well as in the implementation committee.
PTI senior leader Hamid Khan said that the CADD ministry should be abolished and power should be devolved to the elected representatives, as in the presence of the ministry the role of ‘mayor’ would be nominal.
When contacted, Sheikh Ahsanuddin, Rawalpindi’s former High Court Bar Association president said that after the LG set-up, the CADD ministry would be redundant, so it should be abolished, since it was nothing but a burden on the national kitty.
He said the CADD ministry was created to oversee health and education departments but the power should now be devolved to the elected representatives or else the holding of elections would be nothing, but an exercise in futility.
Asked whether the CADD ministry should be abolished after the LG system in the federal capital, a PML-N senior leader on the condition of anonymity said that it was a serious matter and should be discussed threadbare. He, however, said that unfortunately ministries had been formed to create maximum space to accommodate the blue-eyed persons.