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MANSEHRA: The nazims and naib nazims of village and neighbourhood councils in Mansehra have announced they will move the court of law against the provincial government against the denial of non-development budget since the start of the current financial year.

“We have decided to take the government to the court for creating hurdles to the smooth functioning of local government system in the province. We have been without salary budget since the start of the current fiscal. Also, 20 per cent of our development budget has been deducted without justification,” nazim of Safada village council Basharat Ali told reporters here at the end of a meeting of village and neighbourhood council nazims and naib nazims on Monday.

He said the meeting, which was called to decide the future strategy in light of the provincial government’s anti-LG policies was unanimous to move the court against injustices.

“The offices of a majority of 194 village and neighbourhood councils in Mansehra district have been closed due to non-payment of rent to the premises owners as the provincial government has not released non-developmental budget for the purpose during the last nine months,” he said.

Mr Basharat said the next financial year was just three months away but the government had yet to release funds for local bodies to pay for staff salary, building rents, procurement of stationary and other expenses. He said all issues facing the LGs were taken up with CM adviser Mushtaq Ghani during his recent visit to Mansehra, but to no avail.

Speaking on the occasion, Noguzi neighbourhood council nazim Mehmood Tanoli said unfortunately, the government reduced by 20 per cent the funds given to the local governments under the Provincial Financial Commission Award and that the deduction would be challenged in the court of law. He said the provincial government first reduced developmental funds for local bodies by around 50 per cent in the financial year 2015-16 and then cut such funds by 20 per cent in the first two quarters of the current year.

Chakia village council nazim Mohammad Azam said nazims and naib nazims of almost all village and neighbourhood councils had agreed to move the court against the delay in the release of non-developmental budget and 20 per cent cut in development one.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2017