Asad Umar orders speedy preparation of draft LG law for Islamabad

Published November 3, 2021
A file photo of Planning Minister Asad Umar. — Reuters
A file photo of Planning Minister Asad Umar. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Planning Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday directed the department concerned to expedite work on the draft of Local Government Act 2021 for holding elections in Islamabad.

Chairing a review meeting on the proposed Local Government Act 2021, the minister said in accordance with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan a vibrant and powerful local government system was going to be introduced in Islamabad. He said under the new system, the residents of Islamabad will be provided facilities at the grassroots level.

The local government in the capital completed its five-year term in February this year and new elections were supposed to be held within 120 days of the expiry of the term. However, elections are yet to be held as the federal government is going to introduce a new local government law.

The meeting, which was chaired by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan and attended by MNA Raja Khurram Nawaz and the secretary law and other government officers, was told that under the proposed Act, a metropolitan corporation and neighbourhood councils will be set up.

The meeting was also told the mayor will be directly elected and the metropolitan corporation will have 70 seats, including 45 general seats, 10 women, three each representing the youth, minorities, traders, labourers and senior citizens. There will be 100 neighbourhood councils in Islamabad.

According a statement issued by the planning commission, the meeting was told that as per proposed Act, the local government will supervise development works, planning, master plan of the capital city. Out of the 67 directorates of the CDA, 56 will be devolved to MCI whereas out of the 17 departments of Islamabad Capital Territory Administration, 11 directorates will also be devolved to the MCI.

The minister directed the authorities concerned to complete the task of finalising the Act as soon as possible.

A two-member bench of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has reserved its judgment after hearing the viewpoints of the government over the delay in holding the local government elections in the capital.

The bench, comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi heard comments of the interior secretary, chief commissioner and deputy commissioner regarding the government’s preparations for local government elections in the capital.

During the hearing, ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal told the bench that the term of the local government completed on Feb 14 and ECP was supposed to conduct the elections within 120 days. He said the ECP had written several letters to the interior secretary and chief commissioner in this regard.

Interior Secretary Yousuf Nasim Khokhar said he had informed the ECP that steps were being taken for holding the local bodies elections in Islamabad, adding the federal government was going to formulate a new Local Government Act to give more powers to the new system.

A draft act has been sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice for vetting.

Last month, however, the federal cabinet had given the go-ahead to amending the Islamabad Local Government Act 2015. The cabinet also gave approval for increasing the number of union councils from 50 to 100, stating that each union council will comprise a population of 20,000.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2021

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