KARACHI: Amid a very thin attendance of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, the Sindh Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved several important amendments to the Sindh Local Government Act, giving more powers to mayors and chairmen of municipal corporations.

The Sindh Local Government (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023, presented by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, was adopted smoothly without any statement or explanation on the amendment from the treasury benches.

As per the bill, mayors or chairmen of different city corporations across the province would be the heads of development authorities and other civic agencies falling within their respective jurisdictions.

It said that all employees of the development authorities would be deemed as employees of the council and would be treated as per the rules governing the council service subject to the condition that no employees would be transferred from such development authority to the corporation or any other authority or board falling within the jurisdiction of the council.

Lawmakers show lack of interest as only 30 of 168 members attend session

The amendments to the LG law also envisaged several additional functions of corporations and district councils.

According to the bill, the mayor of Karachi will be the ex-officio chairman of Karachi Development Authority, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) as well as other development authorities.

The bill empowered the city mayor to propose three names each for the slots of KWSB and SSWMB chief executives.

Similarly, the mayors or chairmen of other corporations would be chairing the development authorities within their respective jurisdictions and would propose the names for chief executives of the authorities.

The amended bill said that the Provincial Finance Commission would be constituted within 30 days of the first meeting of the council elected under the Act.

It further said that the PFC so constituted under the Act would finalise its recommendations within 180 days of its constitution.

According to the bill, the PFC may, before making recommendations, take into account the principles of population and backwardness of an area.

Revenue collection

The bill also empowered the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to club one or more taxes, rates, tolls, fees etc and collect them through its own means or some third party by entering into a contract.

The administrative control of healthcare facilities and schools has been given back to the KMC in the amended bill. The control was taken away by the provincial government through an amendment in 2021.

The bill also gave the administrative control of Karachi Medical and Dental College, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Sobhraj Maternity Home, Sarfaraz Shaheed Hospital, Spencer’s Eye Hospital and Leprosy Hospital back to the KMC.

The house also passed the Sindh Apprenticeship Bill, 2023.

Lawmakers’ lack of interest

The house continued to wear an almost deserted look as hardly 30 lawmakers attended the proceedings in the 168-member house.

Members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf have not been attending the house since the May 9 violence.

Not a single question was taken up during the Question Hour as none of the movers was present in the house.

The written questions related to environment, climate change and coastal development were asked by Syed Abdur Rasheed of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, PTI’s Arsalan Taj Hussain, Khurram Sher Zaman, Shahzad Qureshi and Dr Seema Zia, and Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi.

Three call attention motions tabled by Abdul Razzaque and Arif Mustafa Jatoi of the GDA and PTI dissident Malik Shahzad Awan could not be answered too as they were also not present.

Later, the session was adjourned to Friday (today).

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2023

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