PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has failed to frame rules of business in the last three years for the two-tier new local government system, which came into force after the recent local body elections in the province.

Sources told Dawn that the newly-elected local body members, especially mayors and chairmen of the city and tehsil councils and chairmen of the village and neighbourhood councils, were scratching their heads about how to run their offices and affairs of the devolved departments in the absence of rules of business for both tiers.

They said it was the rules of business, which defined allocation of business, organisation and working of tehsil offices, functions and powers of the city and tehsil council mayors and chairmen, posting and transfer of officers in tehsil local government, power and functions of assistant commissioner, functions of the heads of devolved offices, function of tehsil municipal officers, and general procedure for disposal of business.

The sources said other matters like orders, instruments, contract and litigation, administrative and financial powers, channel of correspondence, and manner for transaction of business.

Minister says rules ready for cabinet’s consent, powers of tehsil govts not curtailed

The rules of business were made for three tiers of the local government system, including district, tehsil and village and neighbourhood councils. However, after the abolition of the district tier in 2019 and devolution of its department to the tehsil levels, new rules of business were required due to the drastic change in the local government system.

The power and functions of the seven departments devolved to the city and tehsil governments in light of the drastic amendments to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act, 2013 in 2019.

The provincial government in 2019 drastically changed the Local Government Act 2013 and abolished the district tier, which was the major tier of the local government system. Currently, two tiers exist including city and tehsil government and village and neighbourhood government.

Previously, seven departments were devolved from the provincial government to the district tier of the local government system, however, with the abolition of the district tier in 2019, the devolved departments were further devolved from the district government to the city and tehsil governments.

The departments devolved to the city and tehsil governments include elementary and secondary education, social welfare, sports and youth affairs, agriculture (Extension, Livestock, On Farm Water Management, Soil Conservation, Fisheries), population welfare, and municipal services including water and sanitation, rural development, public health engineering, coordination, human resource management, planning, development, finance and budgeting functions for the devolved offices.

The mayors and chairman of the 66 city and tehsil councils in 17 districts of the province have already assumed their respective offices as polls were held on Dec 19.

The districts, where local body elections were held in the first phase, included Buner, Bajaur, Swabi, Peshawar, Nowshera, Kohat, Karak, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Tank, Haripur, Khyber, Mohmand, Charsadda, Hangu and Lakki Marwat.

The mayors and chairmen of the city and tehsil councils and chairmen of VCNCs, who were elected in the second phase of elections on March 31 in the remaining 18 districts, are set to take charge of their respective offices.

Mayor of the Mardan city government Himayatullah Mayar told Dawn that besides rules of business, the provincial government had also not framed the ‘planning development rules and bylaws’ causing the newly-installed local government system to hang in the balance.

He wondered how the local governments would plan development schemes in the absence of any mechanism for its procedures.

When contacted, local government minister Faisal Amin Gandapur said the proposed rules of business for tehsil and village and neighbourhood councils had been prepared after extensive deliberations and that they would presented in the next cabinet meeting for approval.

He rejected rumours about the curtailment of powers of the council mayors and chairmen.

“I say categorically that powers and functions of the city and tehsil governments have neither been reduced nor transferred to the provincial government,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2022

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