The National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday lent its approval to a bill filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf's (PTI) Asad Umer seeking the empowerment of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) and the equitable distribution of resources.
Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi referred the bill to the concerned standing committee after the government did not oppose it.
Informing the House about the salient features of the bill, Umar argued the local government system in Islamabad should be allowed to perform freely.
He raised objections regarding the constitution of the Local Government Board and the Local Government Commission, saying: “These two bodies may hamper the free functioning of the local government in the capital. Therefore, we need to dismantle these entities and ensure more powers for the local government.”
The bill, in its "statements, objects and reasons" outlines the following;
- Elimination of non-elected local government board and local government commission.
- Enhancement of the powers of MCI.
- Enhancement of the powers of Union Councils (UC).
- Increased financial independence of both MCI and UCs.
- Transparent, formula-based distribution of MCI resources among the UCs through the formation of a Capital Financial Commission.
- Enhanced participation of the vice chairman and councillors.
- Ensuring jobs for locals of Islamabad for positions up to BPS-4.
Asad Umar appreciated the decision of the Punjab government to give more powers to the vice chairmans of the union councils, saying the same action was also required for MCI.
When PTI member Dr Shireen Mazari raised a question regarding the Capital Development Authority's (CDA) authority after the passage of the bill, the deputy speaker advised that it would be better to discuss the issue in the standing committee.
He said: “We are supposed to provide civic services to all citizens of Islamabad, including those living in developed sectors, but how can we do that without having the right to collect taxes?”
He had also called for other departments — such as the CDA’s Estate Management sections, which deal with residential and commercial properties — to be transferred to MCI.