• Bilawal wants stakeholders consulted • Health, education can be returned to LGs • Minister says next Karachi mayor to head KWSB • SHOs to be made answerable to UC chairmen
KARACHI: While all the opposition parties irrespective of their representation in the Sindh Assembly have been opposing the recently passed Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2021, the beleaguered Pakistan Peoples Party government in a damage control move expressed its readiness to hold negotiation with the opposition to “further improve the process to amend” the LG law on Friday.
“The Sindh government is fully ready to negotiate with the opposition parties to further improve the process to amend the provincial local government law...the amended LG law is not at all a holy scripture that cannot be further amended or improved,” Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani said.
At a press conference here, Information Minister Ghani and LG Minister Nasir Shah also clarified that the PPP-led government had made a move to assume control of health and educational facilities of local governments for the sole purpose to upgrade their standard, but it was ready to cede their control if it was the demand of the opposition that the municipal agencies continued to manage these public facilities.
However, they said that majority of the suggestions forwarded by opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Jamaat-i-Islami had been incorporated in the newly passed Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2021.
Mr Ghani said that the provincial government had agreed to revive the town system for municipal governance in Karachi after the major opposition parties in the province had given the suggestions to this effect.
He said that Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also given special instructions that the relevant stakeholders should be consulted to take their suggestions into account while improving the LG set-up of the province.
He said the provincial authorities were more than willing to hold talks with the opposition on the contentious issues related to the LG bill including the use of secret ballot for electing mayor and chairmen and the control of local schools and hospitals.
Next mayor to head KWSB: Ghani
The information minister said that similarly talks could also be held to further empower the elected mayor or chairmen in the LG set-up so that they could play a role in the civic agencies like Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB), Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB), and Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).
He said that the provincial government had decided to make next Karachi mayor the chairman of KWSB to empower the elected LG representatives.
LG Minister Nasir Shah said that the elected local government representatives would head the SSWMB once it was devolved to the divisional level for formation of new citywide trash disposal agencies.
He said the union committees / councils after amendments to the provincial LG law would continue to issue the birth/death certificates as was the case in the previous municipal system. This work had been linked with the National Database and Registration Authority to make it error-free, he said.
He said that UC chairmen were going to get the powers to supervise the affairs of government-run schools and hospitals in their respective jurisdiction.
He said the provincial government had planned to amend the Police Act to make area SHOs answerable to UC chairmen by submitting his monthly progress report to the elected LG representative, who would also convey his suggestions and reservations on the law and order issues. “Similar powers will also be available to the elected mayor and town chairmen,’ he added.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021