|Punjab government reverts back to old local bodies|
01 June 2012
LAHORE - The Punjab cabinet on Thursday approved the amended Local Government Ordinance 2012, which, the sources say, envisages restoration of the old mayor system for the metropolitan cities and the chairman-led district councils, while dispensing with the nazim and naib nazim cadre of the Musharraf era.However, the cabinet did not decide whether the next local bodies (LBs) elections will be held on a party or non-party basis, as the final decision is to be made by the Punjab Assembly. The approval was given at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif.Under the amended ordinance, which is to be presented before the Punjab Assembly for approval, a 33 per cent quota for women and five per cent for youth (the first time in the country’s history) have also been allocated. The meeting also granted approval to the setting up of the building control authorities at the divisional level to check the incidents resulting from dangerous and dilapidated buildings. The offices of these authorities will also be set up at the district and tehsil levels.The meeting, besides discussing the performance report of Punjab Public Service Commission for the year 2010-11, also gave approval of the construction of new building of the commission.Sources say areas have been into urban and rural categories under the proposed system. In rural areas, the structure of the LBs will work through the district and union councils, while it will consist of metropolis, metropolitan, municipal corporation, municipal committee and town committee in the urban areas.As per the drafted law, the offices of the lord mayor, mayor and chairman will be restored. Unlike the Musharraf’s LG system, the DCs, instead of serving subordinate to the nazim, will now assist the chairman district council. The powers to suspend the mayor or chairman will be entrusted in the office of chief minister.The cities having a population of up to five million or more (like Lahore) will be given the status of metropolis, while the urban centres with one million or more people will be declared metropolitan corporation and the cities having population of 200,000 to 500,000 are to get the status of municipal corporation. At the union council level, chairman and vice-chairman will be elected directly along with six general members. However, indirect election is proposed for the chairman and vice-chairman at the level of district council. Similarly, mayor and deputy Mayor, chairman and vice-chairman of town committees will also be elected through indirect method. It may be mentioned that the LB polls are pending since October 17, 2009, while the Supreme Court has directed the government to complete the process within the current year.Addressing the cabinet, the chief minister said the LBs institutions throughout the world were considered as nursery to nurture and produce a leadership, which strengthened democracy and democratic traditions.He said the Punjab government visualized a system which met the demands of the modern age while promoting the democratic process.He said an effective representation to the young generation in decision-making process had been given in addition to 33 percent seats for women in the drafted law. Similarly, he said, special seats would be reserved for minorities and farmers as well as workers with a view to giving due representation to all segments of the society.The CM expressed the hope that the new local government setup would provide an opportunity to the youth to display their talent and abilities under the democratic system. He said in order to maintain transparency, merit and good governance, an effective system of accountability is also being adopted in the LBs system.Shahbaz said four-year tenure had been proposed for the local bodies, while the provincial government would have the right of special audit of these institutions.Referring to the building control mechanism in the province, the CM directed that a unified system should be evolved to eliminate overlapping in the powers of development authorities and town municipal administration, adding that the development authorities would be responsible for building control in their notified areas.He said the establishment of the authorities was necessary to check the tragic incidents like Kharak.He said that the process of inspection of industrial institutions should be outsourced and immediate replacement of substandard boilers of factories should be ensured so as to protect the lives of the workers.The Punjab government has sent the draft of Punjab Building Control and Housing Authority Bill to the Law Department for scrutiny. Commissioners will be the chairmen of these authorities at the divisional level, while the chief executive officer of the authority will act as its secretary/member. Sub-offices of these authorities will also be established at the district and tehsil levels. Development authorities will be responsible for dealing with the matters relating to building control, management of housing schemes, implementation of relevant laws and other issues.
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