PTI aims to change the nomenclature of local govt system in capital



–Govt yet to explain the extent to which local govt system would be overhauled

–Changes expected in the electoral method of mayor, deputy mayor

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to introduce substantial changes in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Local Government Act, 2015, and bring the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) out of its present slumber.

What remains unclear is the extent to which the overhaul would go. The government is yet to explain whether the local government system would be overhauled in its entirety or whether the election of mayor and deputy mayor would be changed from indirect election by chairmen to direct election by registered voters.

Since the inception of MCI two years ago, the civic agency has had little or short-lived successes to boast while the list of its failures is quite long. The civic agency had been unsuccessful in resolving perennial issues of the citizens like water woes, public transportation problems, environmental degradation, sanitation and sewerage disposal, maintenance and provision of amenities in old and new sectors.

One example would be enough to show the helplessness of MCI. Back in June 2016, an official order had been issued regarding the transfer of 23 directorates of Capital Development Authority (CDA) to MCI which had been given under the administrative control of the mayor. The directorates had been transferred partially or wholly, along with all rights, assets, and liabilities, according to ICT Local Government Act, 2015, with immediate effect. But to this day, the transfer has not taken place. The employees had filed appeals in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) but the bureaucracy of the CDA had refused to hand over 71 properties to MCI in August, perpetuating a stalemate between the two civic agencies.

Finance Minister Asad Umar who has been elected from NA-54 Islamabad, had earlier introduced similar bills while an opposition MNA during the last government is expected to present the bill in the near future. While campaigning for the elections, when asked about the toothless MCI, Umar said that the present power structure and nomenclature of MCI does not allow the civic agency to exert itself. “The Islamabad mayor is not the representative of the people as he won the position because of his nearness to former premier Nawaz Sharif. We aim to bring in reforms in the act so that the MCI can become a more empowered and representative body,” he told Pakistan Today.

Former MCI opposition leader Ali Nawaz Awan, who is also contesting by-elections from NA-53, the seat vacated by Prime Minister Imran Khan, told Pakistan today that the MCI is a “toothless entity” that needs a complete overhaul. “The rationale behind these amendments is not to deny the majority of any party but to strengthen the governance and service delivery to the denizens of the federal capital. The past of MCI is for everyone to see and PTI is all set to empower the local government soon,” he said.