PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has yet to decide how to utilise the Rs46 billion development funds meant for local bodies in the absence of elected local councils, according to sources.
Under the Provincial Finance Commission Award, the share of the local bodies in current financial year is Rs46 billion. The funds were previously spent through three tiers of the local bodies including district, tehsil and village and neighbourhood councils.
“However, the provincial government has yet to frame any mechanism for the utilisation of such huge funds as the tenure of the local bodies expired on August 28. Fresh local bodies’ elections are not in sight in the current financial year,” said sources.
Under section 219 of the Elections Act, 2017, fresh polls have to be held within 120 days of the expiry of the term of the existing local bodies. However, despite the lapse of the three months of ending the tenure of the local bodies, the provincial government dragging its feet on holding fresh elections.
LB tenure has ended but fresh polls are not in sight
“The local bodies’ elections would most likely not take place in the current financial year. Even if today, the government decides to hold elections, the delimitation and other preparations would take at least six months while five months have already passed in the current financial year,” a senior official told Dawn.
The tenure of the local bodies ended around three months ago, however, the local government department is yet to finalise rules for delimitation in the province that is compulsory for holding fresh elections.
Sources said that rules for delimitation had been pending with Local Government Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai for the last few weeks. They said that the rules would be placed before the provincial cabinet for approval once the local government minister approved the same.
Sources said that holding of local bodies elections were not insight, the provincial government was likely to utilise the hefty amount of Rs46 billion through bureaucracy.
They said that such funds would be spent through deputy commissioners in the district tier, tehsil municipal administrators at tehsil level and assistant directors of local government at village and neighbourhood council.
“It would be in violation of the spirit of the local bodies if the funds are utlised through bureaucracy,” said sources.
They said that the provincial government had already given the powers of district council to deputy commissioner, the powers of tehsil council to TMO and that of village and neigbourhood council to the assistant director of local government through a recent amendment to KP Local Government Act, 2013.
Local Government Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai, when contacted, said that provincial government had the desire to utilise the funds through the representatives of local bodies to be elected after the fresh elections.
He said that provincial government would wait till local bodies’ elections.
When he was told that five months already passed in the current financial year and elections were not possible in another six months, the minister said that there were some technicalities that were hurdling holding of local bodies’ elections.
He said that government would frame mechanism for the utilisation of the funds if there was a delay in holding elections.
“There is no confusion on the part of government regarding utilisation of local bodies’ funds. The government is clear on this issue. We are the authority to decide mechanism for the utilisation,” the minister said.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019