HARIPUR: The elected village and neighbourhood councillors all over the district have demanded of the government to restore the Local Government Act, 2013 in its original form and enforce it across the province forthwith.

They said that the uncalled for amendments being introduced into the Act had made it worthless.

They voiced it at the “councillors’ convention” organised by the elected nazims of local village and neighbourhood councils at Benazir Bhutto Memorial Hall in the precinct of tehsil municipal administration here on Tuesday.

They called upon the government to stop uncalled for process of amendments being introduced into the Act through executive order, which rendered it useless.

Councillors say amendments have made the law worthless

Malik Faisal Iqbal, district president of Village and Neighbourhood Association (VNA) and nazim of village council Malikyar; Omer Khan, district vice-president of VNA from village council sikandarpur and Abdul Waheed Khan, district general secretary of VNA from Neighbourhood council City 10, were the host of the event.

Hundreds of councillors from the 180 village and neighcourhood councils of Haripur attended the convention. Elected nazims from village councils and neighbourhood councils of Peshawar, Charsadda, Kohat, Bannu, Mardan and Takht Bhai participated in the gathering convened to seek the rights of elected councils.

Tariq Bacha, central president of Local Government Council from Charsadda, said that they would become a party with Waseem Akhtar, nazim Karachi Metropolitan Corporation in the Supreme Court.

“The elected MNAs and MPAs are opposed to the local government system. They are not ready to delegate powers to the grassroots level. They want to impose their autocratic rule in the elected bodies by denying autonomy to the elected councils,” he added.

Mr Bacha called upon the government to allow local councils to set up project committees, comprising notables of their retrospective areas. He said that project committees were the only method which could end corruption promoted by the existing contract-system.

He said that henchmen of some of the MNAs and MPAs, in the garb of contractors, were the root cause of the corruption in the province. He said that they would not allow the government to make amendments, through executive orders, into the Act. He said that they would not submit their schemes unless the Act was restored in its original shape.

Malik Faisal said on the occasion that the assignment accounts being operated by the assistant director of local government and his secretary were unacceptable to them as it was contrary to the spirit of democracy.

Instead, he said, nazims and secretaries of their council should be empowered to operate the account. He said that government had yet not provided them with funds to run their offices and meet expenditures in the shape of rent, electricity and water bills.

Mr Faisal said that eight months had been passed since the local bodies elections, but the government had failed to implement any scheme in any area. The development funds, he said, would lapse if that state of affairs persisted.

All the elected councillors despite of their loyalties with different political parties were unison in their demand of early transferring of funds to the local councils, restoration of the Local Government Act, 2013 in its original shape and formation of project committees for the execution of development schemes.

They also presented their demands to Yousuaf Ayub Khan, a PTI leader, and urged him to side with them in their struggle for the effective functioning of local councils.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2016