PESHAWAR, Jan 13: The newly revived Peshawar Municipal Corporation is doomed to experience fiscal inadequacies and revenue recovery issues because of expansion of its limits under the new arrangement, according to official sources.
Comprising urban localities of Peshawar district, the revived PMC has outgrown the area of its previous jurisdiction when it became non-existent in August 2001 with the introduction of devolution of power plan.
“The PMC’s limits have undergone expansion in all four directions as the semi-urban areas of the four devolved towns (of the defunct Peshawar city district government) are also included in the revived entity,” said an official of the local government and rural development department.
The official said that the revived corporation was not capable to meet the challenge as it lacked fiscal, administrative, and human resource capacity to provide municipal services to all the localities under its limits.
Similarly, it won’t have the ability to enforce its rules and recover dues, particularly, from the areas added recently to the PMC’s limits, added the official.
According to a PMC official, the corporation’s limits have now been extended to Chamkani on G.T. Road, Badhber on Kohat road and Bakhshu Pul on Charsadda road, expanding them from Chughalpura, Kohat Bus Stand and Budhnee Pul, respectively.
The expansion in area limits, said the official, would require expansion in municipal services, including drinking water, sanitation, street lights, fire brigade, municipal schools and colleges.
“Revenue recovery would be an issue and same is the case with people’s growing development needs,” said the PMC official. In several of the inner Peshawar localities, drinking water pipes are rusty and sewage lines faulty, requiring immediate improvement.
The official said that the corporation was also set to experience budgetary problems because the new system had been introduced in the middle of financial year.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act 2012, passed in May last year, became effective from January 1 this year. District governments have been abolished. The pre-August 2001 system of municipal committees and district councils has been revived in all the 25 districts, abolishing town and tehsil municipal administration from the start of current year.
Officials said that the newly revived entities had come into effect without determining their budgetary requirements for the remaining half of current financial year.
“The allocations earmarked at the start of current financial year for all the district governments would remain unchanged and the allocated finances will be distributed among the municipal committees, district councils and the lone municipal corporation in accordance with their respective districts’ allocation,” said a senior official of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Department.
Development budgets, previously looked after by the district governments and town/tehsil administrations, are expected to be hit badly.
According to official sources, the distribution of development schemes – previously run by district governments, town and tehsil administration – among the revived municipal committees and district councils remains to be done.
“Unless the distribution of development schemes is finalised, the question of their smooth functioning would remain unanswered,” said the finance department official.
He said there was no ambiguity about the current budget, but the future of development budgets of the district government was not clear. The additional secretary of the finance department said that the district development budgets, earmarked at the start of current financial year, would remain unchanged and funds would be provided to all the districts accordingly.
He, however, could not answer when asked about the distribution of development budgets among the municipal committees and district councils.
Other than budgetary, developmental works, and staff issues, almost all the districts, said the local government and rural development official, were facing problems to provide office buildings to the newly revived entities and decide the issue of their assets and liabilities.
Even in the case of Peshawar, the issue of ownership of assets and liabilities between the Municipal Corporation and district council, said an official, had not yet been decided. “This is quite irksome,” said a PMC official, adding that it might give birth to bigger budgetary issues in the months to come.