LAHORE: Senior minister Aleem Khan says the new local government system will be two-tier and offer financial and administrative autonomy at grassroots level to solve the masses’ problems at their doorsteps.

He, however, parried a question about giving any date for the finalisation of the local government law for implementation in Punjab.

The senior minister, along with Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local government ministers, was speaking at a news conference following inter-provincial meeting on local government departments at the Chief Minister Secretariat on Thursday.

Aleem Khan said the meeting was a great opportunity to discuss shortcomings in the system as experiences were shared by KP minister Shahram Tarkai and Balochistan minister Saleh Bhotani.

He said the Punjab government would give 30pc development budget to the local governments and development works would start simultaneously in 25,000 villages across the province without any discrimination.

The minister said the Punjab government was also actively working to install six waste-to-energy plants and added that one such plant would also be installed in Peshawar – to be funded by the KP government.

Mr Khan said the Punjab government had also invited the Sindh local government minister but he could not attend the meeting. “Fine-tuning the local government system is not any party’s matter but a collective cause for the welfare of people in the country,” he said and added that the minister’s shield was being sent to Karachi.

He said the Azad Jammu and Kashmir as well as Gilgit-Baltistan governments would also be urged to take part and do collective brainstorming.

On the invitation of the Balochistan minister, Mr Khan said the next minister’s meeting would be held in Quetta followed by Peshawar. “We will also go to Sindh, if invited,” he said. Balochistan minister Saleh Bhotani said it was difficult to work in a coalition government but still it was making efforts to deliver services to the masses. He said Balochistan’s existing local government system would expire on Jan 28 and the new one would be introduced at the earliest.

He said the Balochistan chief minister had announced doubling the local government budget next year. He said the waste-to-energy projects would also be launched. KP minister Shahram Tarkai said the PTI had formed its government in KP for the second consecutive time and added that the local government system had made it popular in the province. He said the KP was already giving 30pc development funds to village and neighbourhood councils.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2019