LAHORE, Dec 16: Representatives of all provinces are attending a Commonwealth roundtable conference in London on Monday (today) to discuss how local government system can be further strengthened in the aftermath of devolution of federal subjects to the federating units under the 18th Amendment.

They are expected to present papers in support of ‘strengthening local government system while further devolving powers to the provinces’ despite the fact that none of the provincial governments have been able to hold fresh local elections due to one stated reason or another despite Supreme Court directions.

Punjab is being represented by MNA Zahid Hamid and former Rawalpindi Nazim Raja Javaid Akhlas.

Mr Zahid Hamid headed a committee appointed by the chief minister to evolve a new local government system carrying both the good things of Gen Musharraf’s 2001 setup and Gen Zia’s 1979 model while adhering to the constitutional requirement of devolving powers to the local councils.

The committee worked a lot, though secretly, to formulate a system as per the directions at a time when the provincial government deemed it best to directly run the local governments through bureaucracy.

At last the government decided to replicate the 1979 model while rejecting all the  proposals by the committee when the Supreme Court asked all the provincial governments to announce local elections.

A draft law was approved and tabled in the Punjab Assembly which is still pending perusal by a standing committee.

Sources told Dawn the team representing Punjab got prepared from government officials three briefs – on fiscal devolution, decentralisation of delivery of key services at district level and on required administrative and human resource at district level.

The papers were confined to the topics only, they said.

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