‘MPAs, bureaucrats major hurdles against empowering LG system’

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ISLAMABAD: Participants at a four-day long capacity building workshop of local government officials, titled ‘Strong Cities Network Member Districts’, said on Saturday that members of provincial assemblies (MPAs) and bureaucrats are the major stumbling blocks in the establishment of the powerful local government (LG) systems.

They expressed these views at the concluding session of the workshop organised by Individualland Pakistan (IL).

Local government representatives were of the view that the MPAs and the bureaucracy were not ready to empower the LG system, which was creating various hurdles in the process of devolution of power to the grassroot level.

Forest and Wildlife Minister Obaidullah Jan Babat, Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini and member of National Assembly (MNA) Sardar Kamal also spoke on the occasion. As many as 21 local government representatives, including mayors and councilors from Peshawar, Nowshera and Quetta, attended the workshop.

Participants complained that the MPAs and bureaucracy were creating all sorts of impediments in their work, due to which they were unable to perform their duties effectively. They opined that if the local government representatives were not given administrative and financial power, the system would not give the desired results.

A local government representative, while seeking anonymity, said, “The main job of MNAs and MPAs is legislation, but unfortunately in our country they are more interested in developing projects instead of building public consensus on new legislation.”

Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini said that though local government system had been put in place in all provinces, all provincial governments were yet to devolve actual power to the local bodies representatives.

He said that the local government representatives have good understanding of public issues in comparison to MNAs and MPAs. Hence, it was the need of the hour to empower them so as to resolve public problems in an efficient manner.

Speaking on the occasion, Obaidullah Jan Babat said that Balochistan had given power and funds to local government representatives to empower them further. “We believe in democracy, therefore, making efforts to devolve power to grassroot level is our responsibility,” the minister added. He said that mayors and other local government representative have been given funds in Balochistan, under which various projects have already been initiated.

Addressing the participants, MNA Sardar Kamal said that the local government system could not prove effective in Pakistan until it was made financially strong, while adding that the system was currently ineffective because it was deprived of administrative and financial powers.

He said, “Our society is not aware about the effectiveness of the local government system and the need to empower them, therefore, there is a need to educate the masses in this regard.”

Executive Director IL Pakistan Gulmina Bilal Ahmad said that the LG system was presently a necessity and provincial governments have to honour the commitments made to people in order to strengthen the system. She said that her organisation was focusing on promoting and strengthening democratic procedures and enhancing the role of citizens in governance.