LAHORE: Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat on Tuesday asked the finance department to get explanations on Section 189 and 190 of new local government Act 2019 so that no lacuna left once the provincial government will timely award the next Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) award.

The minister also instructed the local government department to provide the updated record of LG assets and information technology should be used in preparing the record so that the government will be able to get aware of available assets and resources of the local government prior to awarding the PFC award.

The minister issued these instructions chairing the maiden meeting of provisional PFC Award. The meeting was attended by MPA Sardar Muhammad Awais Dreshak, Abdul Rehman Rana, Secretary Finance Abdullah Sumbhal, Secretary Local Government Ahmed Javeed Qazi, Senior Consultant for Public Finance Management Faisal Rasheed and other members of the commission.

The meeting reviewed distribution of resources under new local government act, required amendments in existing PFC award, and explaining distribution of grants under defined laws. The local government representatives briefed the meeting that under 2017 interim PFC award local government share was 37.5 per cent from provincial resources while special development grants were 6.5pc. The 2017 interim PFC award was made on formula, based on population, poverty, children out of schools, 15 to 49 years women population and access to safe drinking water. However, with amendments in new local government act of 2019, provisional PFC award need to be amended as well.

LOCAL GOVT: Meanwhile, the finance minister said that sub-national governance programme will be utilised for the elimination of corruption as well as ensuring transparency in Local Government Department, Municipal Corporation and property tax sector.

He stated this while meeting with a team of sub-national governance programme at PRA office on Tuesday. Both long- and short-term programmes will be formulated for reforms agenda. The government is contemplating to revise the drafting of PC-1 adding that financial management, business planning and identification of timeline at every step are more important than the number of class-IV employees associated with the drafting of PC-1.

Adoption of a suitable mechanism and promotion of automatic system will help eliminate corruption in government sector, he maintained.

He appreciated the services of SNG programme for tax reforms and budget drafting and stressed the need for consulting sub-national governance programme for promoting public-private partnership and launch of e-procurement for the elimination of corruption in public sector procurement.

He desired that sub-national governance programme should keep an eye on steps being taken at international level for administrative reforms in the province so that positive changes could be brought about in the public sector governance project-II.

Majeeb Saiduzai apprised the minister about the details of the programme and said that a working team has been identified in Punjab.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2019