ISLAMABAD, Aug 27: The Senate was informed on Wednesday that the government had no intention to scrap the local government system, but wanted to introduce suitable amendments while maintaining its basic structure.

In reply to a point of order at the outset of proceedings, Leader of the House Mian Raza Rabbani said the Pakistan People’s Party believed that there were three tiers of the government -- federal, provincial and local.

He said the government was committed to the local government system. The PPP had its own “comprehensive devolution plan”, but it could not implement it because its government was twice dismissed prematurely, he said.

Mr Rabbani said his party had prepared an alternative devolution plan when General (retd) Pervez Musharraf introduced the local government system. Matters concerning taxation and division of powers were clearly defined in that plan, the PPP leader added.

He said the local government system had been provided protection under the 17th Amendment and was placed in the 6th schedule of the Constitution.

The amendment to this schedule requires prior approval of the president. Describing it as a curb on provincial autonomy, he said the article would be repealed.

Kamil Ali Agha, on a point of order, rejected as unconstitutional the restoration of the office of commissioner by Punjab and Sindh governments. He said the local government secretary had been coaxing the district management group into bypassing the nazims.

He said the nazims had been stopped from exercising their executive authority in about a dozen departments that were under their control.

Mr Agha said the provincial governments were not competent to change the local government system as it enjoyed constitutional cover under the 17th Amendment.

There was an uproar after details of perks and privilegesu of PTV Chairman Dr Shahid Masood were placed before the house during question hour.

Members termed Dr Masood an overpaid and over-pampered PTV chief, with Ismael Buledi calling his appointment part of a conspiracy to sell out the PTV to a private TV channel.

Some of the members said that a senior and competent official from the PTV could have been appointed instead of hiring an outsider on such a huge package.

Minister for Information Sherry Rehman informed the house that Dr Shahid Masood was drawing a gross salary of Rs850,000 per month. Other benefits included a chauffer-driven 1,600cc car with unlimited fuel for private and official use maintained by the corporation.

Updated Aug 28, 2008 12:00am

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