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New LG law envisages local bodies free of DCs’ control

Updated April 21, 2019

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The minister said each village of the province would have independent local body as Punchayat and the urban population would have Neighbourhood Council at Mohallah (locality) level. — Photo courtesy of Twitter
The minister said each village of the province would have independent local body as Punchayat and the urban population would have Neighbourhood Council at Mohallah (locality) level. — Photo courtesy of Twitter

LAHORE: Punjab law and local government minister Basharat Raja has said five new bills and a few ordinances will be introduced in the upcoming Punjab Assembly session beginning from Monday (tomorrow), including the Punjab Local Government Bill-2019 that will “ensure public autonomy and sustainable development at grassroots level”.

At a pre-session media briefing at the Punjab Assembly and greeting the newly-elected members of the Press Gallery Committee on Saturday, the minister said the new local government system was a reflection of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s vision, “who wanted to see their public empowered and prosperous”.

After approval of the new LG Bill-2019 from the assembly, he said, the Punjab LG Act 2013 would be repealed.

He said the new system comprised two tiers – Tehsil Council and Municipal Corporation (MC)/Town Committee (TC) and Neighborhood Council and Punchayat – with abolition of the district councils and union councils of the previous system.

Minister says it won’t change police status

He said each village of the province would have independent local body as Punchayat and the urban population would have Neighbourhood Council at Mohallah (locality) level.

First time in the history of the country, he said, the minorities of Punjab would be enable to elect their own heads and representatives of their respective local bodies. He said the representatives of tehsil councils and MCs would come through party-based elections, while there would be non-party elections for the Punchayat and Neighbourhood Councils.

Mr Basharat said the new local bodies would receive direct funds to the tune of Rs40 billion from the government to identify and execute their own projects and added the LG system would bring “self-reliance and sustainability” to the local bodies of Punjab.

Answering a question, the law minister said legislation was the constitutional right of government against which any citizen was free to move court. He assured that neither deputy commissioners (DC) would interfere in the new local bodies, nor the status of police would be changed. However, he said, the local bodies would be empowered to supervise the education and health sectors.

Greeting the Press Gallery’s newly-elected president Mian Aslam, Secretary Faizan Bangish and the elected panel members, the law minister also lauded the services and conduct of the outgoing office-bearers. He hoped that the new team would help promote smooth relations between the government and the press.

Parliamentary secretary for law, Ali Abbas Shah, was also present.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019