KARACHI: Caretaker Chief Minister retd Justice Maqbool Baqar on Thursday directed the local government department to complete the “transition” process by Oct 1 across the province.

The chief minister issued direction to this effect while presiding over a meeting regarding the local bodies. Interim LG Minister Mubeen Jumani, Law Minister Umar Soomro, Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab, Advocate General Hasan Akbar, LG Secretary Manzoor Shaikh, Chairman Planning & Development Department Shakeel Mangnejo, Principal Secretary to CM Hasan Naqvi, Finance Secretary Kazim Jatoi, Karachi Commissioner Saleem Rajput, Sindh Solid Waste Management Board Managing Director Imtaiz Shah, KMC Municipal Commissioner Afzal Zaidi and others attended the meeting.

The chief minister said that he wanted to strengthen local councils so that they could carry out development work with honesty and integrity.

He said that budget of each council was based on local taxes. He directed the local councils to recover property tax effectively.

Baqar says he wants to strengthen local councils, enable them to start development works

Justice Baqar also directed the local government department to remove ghost employees from the local bodies. “This work should be done in a transparent manner and should not be exploited,” he ordered.

The chief minister was told that a period of six months had been notified as a “transition period” from June 19 and the local government department had constituted a divisional transition team for Karachi and district transition teams (DTTs) for the rest of the districts in the province to formulate a plan for transition in a smooth and transparent manner beside ensuring fair distribution of the assets, liabilities and human resources.

The meeting was informed that DTTs had been formed under the chairmanship of deputy commissioners concerned, while the DTT chairman was commissioner in Karachi.

The meeting was told that the transition process in Karachi and Shaheed Benazirabad had been completed.

The chief minister directed the local government department to complete the transition by Oct 1 so that the local councils could start functioning in the larger interest of the people of the areas.

Sources said that several union councils were yet to be made functional as practically elected representatives had not been empowered to exercise their administrative and financial authority within their respective jurisdictions under the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA).

They said that many chairmen and vice-chairmen of towns and UCs were not even provided offices or sitting places during the transition period as all powers were being exercised by local government secretary and “transition officers”.

On Sept 1, the local government department had issued notifications regarding termination of the transition system in Karachi, saying that the chairmen of the TMCs would now have financial and administrative powers to run their respective local councils with all council officers under their administrative control as transition officers ceased to hold their respective offices.

The delay in termination of transition system had led to an outcry and resentment among the elected local government representatives, especially those belonging to opposition parties, including Jamaat-i-Islami which had moved the Sindh High Court against transition officers.

Published in Dawn, September 22th, 2023

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