• Local Government Act, 2021, yet to be passed by parliament
  • PM’s aide says local bodies elections to be held in May

ISLAMABAD: Almost a year has passed since the last local government in the capital completed its tenure but the higher authorities have yet to announce a date for holding the elections in the city.

As per the rules, polls for the local bodies have to be conducted within 180 days after the completion of the previous setup’s term. Since the last Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) ceased to exist on Feb 15, 2021, the government has so far not even gotten the Local Government Act 2021 passed by Parliament.

However, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Ali Nawaz Awan told Dawn that the government was all set to hold the local government (LG) elections in May this year.

He also negated the impression that the polls were facing delay, saying President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated the Islamabad Local Government Ordinance 2021 a few months ago and it was placed before the National Assembly last week.

“After approval from both the houses of the Parliament, the ordinance will become an Act,” Mr Awan said, adding the delimitation process would be completed next month.

“Who says we are not going to hold the LG polls; we are fully prepared even for today,” the PM’s aide said, adding the PTI Islamabad chapter was going to seek applications for the slots of chairman and councillors.

Mr Awan, who had recently been made the PTI Islamabad chapter president, said all party workers were eagerly waiting for the polls.

It may be mentioned that the last LG elections held in November 2015 were won by the PML-N.

But after its formation, the MCI failed to deliver, as in its five-year term the members could not get funds while rules and regulations were not finalised throughout its tenure.

“We are going to introduce a powerful local government system under which public issues will be solved at their doorsteps,” said Raja Shiraz Kayani, former opposition leader in the MCI.

He said the last elections were held on the basis of a weak Act but “this time round, we have prepared a comprehensive ordinance and Islamabad will have a powerful mayor.” He said there was no truth in such reports that the government did not want to hold the elections in Islamabad.

“The elections will be held soon. We are holding meetings with party activists in this regard,” he said.

Asked about the delay, he said a comprehensive new ordinance was prepared which was a time-taking process.

On the other hand, before the ordinance became an Act, it faced strong opposition from teaching and non-teaching employees of schools against section 166 of the ordinance under which the mayor would be the reporting officer of the director general of Federal Directorate of Education for all education purposes.

Following the protest of teachers and boycott of classes, the ministry of education in consultation with the teachers and local MNAs moved a summary to the federal government to make an amendment to the section proposing that the mayor will play the overall monitoring and supervision role of education facilities and will also be responsible for introducing development plans for schools.

Under the ordinance, the Capital Development Authority’s all departments except the Chairman Secretariat, planning and estate wings, will also be devolved to the local government. The CDA employees are up in arms against the move and have held several protest demonstrations.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022

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