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ISLAMABAD: The approval of rules and regulations for the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) is facing an inordinate delay as they are being passed back and forth between the Establishment Division and the finance ministry the last many months, the interior ministry told a parliamentary panel on Monday.

An interior ministry official, who deals with MCI affairs, informed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior that the MCI cannot function properly without its rules and regulations and cannot spend the funds it collects against various municipal services.

The official told the committee that the interior ministry has forwarded the proposed rules many months ago but they are yet to be approved by the Establishment Division and the finance ministry.

Proposed rules await Establishment Division, finance ministry’s nod, interior ministry official says

The MCI was formed in 2016 following the local government elections in the capital city in Nov 2015 but is still technically an ineffective body. The government never released funds for its development projects.

As a stop-gap measure, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has been loaning MCI money for it to pay salaries ad meet other non-development expenses.

In the over two years since its formation, the MCI has been paid billions by the CDA, which has mostly been spent on salaries.

The standing committee, which met in parliament with Senator Rehman Malik in the chair, said the MCI should be made a vibrant body and directed the finance ministry and Establishment Division to resolve the issue of unapproved rules of the MCI within six weeks.

CDA Member Finance Fahad Haroon Aziz said that due to the MCI’s loans, the CDA is unable to launch mega development schemes. He said the provision of loans to the MCI is making an “invariable affect on development of the city”.

In June 2016, certain formations and allied CDA staff related to municipal services were transferred to the MCI.

According to CDA documents, the total strength of the civic agency before the MCI was 18,770 of which 10,425 employees were transferred to MCI, 5,540 are working for both the CDA and MCI and the CDA has 2,805 employees in its own directorates.

CDA Chairman Afzal Latif and member administration retired Capt Asadullah Khan briefed the committee on the CDA’s functioning.

The CDA chief said there are several issued between CDA and MCI regarding jurisdiction. For example, he said, the MCI allots kiosks on CDA green belts along roads.

He said there is a need for a joint sitting bench between both organisations for demarcation.

Committee members were unsatisfied with a briefing by temporary member planning Hafiz Ehsanul Haq who could not provide the exact number of legitimate and illegal housing societies operating in Islamabad.

He said there are 41 housing schemes which had applied for a layout plan and a no-objection certificate but the CDA had cancelled many of the layout plans.

“It is a matter of great concern that the member planning does not know the exact number of illegal housing societies,” said Senator Javed Abbasi.

Senator Rehman Malik said the CDA had failed in implementing its bylaws. He questioned the rapid increase in the number of illegal housing societies in the federal capital and directed for holding a separate meeting on the issue to which Federal Investigation Agency and National Accountability Bureau officials will also be invited.

The committee lauded the CDA chairman for conducting an anti-encroachment drive on the Kashmir Highway.

The committee also directed the CDA to start the project for extending the Expressway from Koral to G.T Road. Senator Mohammad Ateeq Sheikh said there is dire need for the project as traffic congestion is routine on this busy road.

In the Public Sector Development Program for 2018-19, the previous government had allocated over Rs7 billion for this project but the PTI government has decided not to fund this unapproved project in the ongoing fiscal year.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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