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PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa senior minister for local government Inayatullah Khan on Monday said the government had initiated the second-generation reforms envisaged with a string of initiatives to remove bottlenecks from the local government system to make it more efficient for improved service delivery.

“These reforms initiatives will guide the course correction process in the local government system established in 2015 under the Local Government Act, 2013,” he told a workshop on institutional assessment of LG system here.

The event was jointly organised by the LG&RD department and DFID-funded Sub-National Governance Programme, where district nazims, deputy commissioners and senior officials of the relevant provincial government departments were in attendance, said a statement issued here.

“The KP government is keen to continuously work on the improvement of the LG system in order to streamline the business processes in the system for better and transparent utilisation of funds,” he said.

Minister says implementation of ‘second-generation’ reforms to improve service delivery

The minister said the government was committed to tracking development funds so that they reached the people in time and on equitable basis.

“This is good time to look back and see what is working and what is not working and have a fair assessment of the situation on ground for designing a futuristic road map,” he said.

Mr Inayat said he was hopeful that the workshop would guide the course of second generation reforms to deepen devolution reforms and accelerate service delivery for communities and citizen.

Two reports on the performance of the local government system were released in the event before the participants discussed them in detail.

Focusing on institutional assessment, the reports one on district governments and the other on village and neighbourhood councils (VCNCs) identified a number of reform areas in the system to improve efficiency and transparency.

The district governments and VCNCs were taken on board about the recommendations titled ‘second-generation reforms’ being implemented by the provincial governments. They inputs were solicited.

A series of recommendations were made to improve performance in terms of compliance with the rules and regulations.

The reports suggested the creation of a district planning cadre, strengthening of the office of district officer (finance and planning), establishment of a robust mechanism for increasing coordination among local government, and finance and planning departments for compliance with P&D guidelines and budget rules.

They said currently, the financial system in LG system was facing challenges from budget preparation to allocation and utilisation of funds.

The reports observed that fewer than the prescribed, rather negligible monitoring visits had been conducted by the supervisory office in district, while majority of the visiting officers did not submit monitoring reports of their visits.

They said as a corrective measure, the already formulated monitoring and supervision rules for the local governments should be enforced.

The reports also suggested the profiling of projects for visits of commissioner, nazim and DC and establishment of internal audit cells in the office of local government secretary.

They also suggested the development of a model tax schedule in almost all district governments and finding of ways and means to generate own source revenue, making the regulatory framework more amenable and devising a mechanism for tracking of revenue funds.

Local government secretary Jamaluddin Shah said with the political, social and economic role of local governments in KP growing increasingly important, the assessment exercise was an important step to find what made the officers deliver less at the grassroots levels.

“We now have clear set of priorities as the way forward to further strengthen the development planning at local level,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017