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KMC chief doubts new law will help LGs flourish

Updated August 22, 2013

KARACHI, Aug 21: The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) — the country’s largest municipality — declared on Wednesday that it was unable to function properly and even pay salaries of employees of grade 15 and above.

Speaking at a media briefing held at the Civic Centre, KMC Administrator Saqib Soomro admitted that due to a financial crunch the corporation had failed to pay salaries of its employees for two months. However, he added, the salaries of workers in grade-1 to 15 as well as pensions had somehow been paid.

Giving a reason for the long delay in the process, Mr Soomro said the KMC had not received the Rs500 million grant from the provincial government under the head of salaries for two months.

“The employees in grade-16 and above may still not get their salaries (for a third month) unless the grant was released,” he apprehended. He hoped that the pending grants would be released soon and the future grants released regularly to avoid such a situation from recurring.

The KMC administrator endorsed the concerns shown by critics of the recently passed local government law, saying that it provided little guarantees to enable LG institutions to flourish by becoming financially and administratively self-sufficient.

He blamed the provincial government for disruptions with regard to the payment of salaries and pensions as well as execution of development works.

He argued that salaries and pensions could be paid and other payments made only when the provincial government released the grants meant for the KMC. He explained that separate grants under various heads including salaries, development works and fuel were released to the corporation.

Mr Soomro stressed the need for an increase in the KMC’s revenue in order to overcome its financial crunch.

“It is need of the hour keeping in view the fact that every employee’s salary has now increased manifold with the passage of time,” he said.

It was the same financial fix that did not allow the corporation to get its 50 out-of-order buses repaired and operate them in the city, he said. “Yet work on the plan is under way,” he added.

The administrator said he realised his responsibility to provide facilities to citizens across the KMC jurisdiction and the corporation was trying its best to fulfil that responsibility.

Schemes and projects

The KMC administrator said work was in progress to strengthen the solid waste management project and channelisation of drains. “The municipality is mulling over launching more flyover and bridge projects by putting together all its resources.

“Frequent changes in the municipal system in the recent past hindered streamlining of the solid waste management system on modern lines,” he argued, and said that the KMC was considering outsourcing of the garbage lifting system as it believed this was a good option.

He was of the view that lifting of garbage was primarily a responsibility of district municipal committees (DMCs) while shifting of the garbage to the landfill sites was KMC’s job. Again, he said, a shortage of funds was affecting the garbage lifting and disposal.

Mr Soomro held encroachments mainly responsible for flooding in certain areas due to overflowing drains. The gravity of the situation owing to encroachments could be gauged from the fact that the width of the Gujjar nullah and other major drains had reduced to a mere seven feet or so.

“Clearing of nullahs requires time and funds… even if both are available, the desired results could not be achieved unless encroachments are completely removed,” he said.

He told the media that the officials concerned were trying to ascertain reasons behind the recent flooding in Saadi Town and Amroha Society. “We are making our best efforts to ensure that such a situation does not recur in future,” he said.