ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan is concerned about the powerless and fund-less local government of the federal capital, sources in the PTI say.

They say that after forming the government, the PTI will focus on the local government setup and resolve the issues of the two million people of the city from the grassroots level.

Also read: For a democratic Pakistan, more power needs to be given to local governments

Some PTI workers claim that the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) may also face change and that PTI opposition leader Ali Awan could replace Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz with in-house change.

PTI chairman ‘concerned’ about powerless, fund-less MCI, party sources say

However, Mr Awan told Dawn the proposal is not being seriously considered.

“Our party is concerned about the poor performance of the MCI as there is no budget, no power and no rules and regulations for the corporation. The PTI government will make the local government setup an exemplary system so that people’s issues can be resolved at the local level,” he said.

The change of mayor is an option, he said.

“But one thing is very clear. We will make MCI more vibrant and effective as an organisation and if need be, the federal government can also decide to conduct a new local government election,” he said.

The first MCI was formed following the local government elections in Nov 2015. The MCI is still powerless and fund-less today as it has remained neglected by the PML-N government, which was apparently not in favour of holding local government elections but conducted them on Supreme Court directions.

After the elections, it left the new corporation unattended and the MCI has not even had funds for paying its staff the last two years.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) - of which 23 full and over 25 partial directorates were devolved to the MCI - has been loaning money to the corporation for its non-development expenses. MCI has no funds for development projects.

For the first time, the PML-N federal government approved in its 2018-19 budget around a dozen development schemes worth over Rs3 billion, which is yet to be released.

Residents of the capital city, in the meantime, have been faced by many problems, the biggest of which is the water shortage. The health, education and development facilities are also inadequate.

There are 50 union councils (UC) in the federal capital, 18 urban and 32 rural. CDA still conducts development projects and projects such as road carpeting in urban areas but the rural UCs are suffering as they do not even have a garbage collection system.

CDA and MCI officials Dawn spoke to said that if the PTI government wants to bring change in the real sense, it will have to empower UC chairmen and all development projects should be carried out by local representatives. They also stressed on the need for a one-time special favour to the budding MCI, a financial package to help the corporation take off in real terms.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2018