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April 10, 2019

Loss of billions caused by Punjab govt

Top Story

April 10, 2019

Highlights

  • Local Government Minister Raja Basharat also not really convinced with the Punjab government’s order
  • An official source in the PLGB confided to The News that following the government’s direction, there is hardly any work being done by the local government institutions
  • Lahore Mayor has approached the apex court against the Punjab government.

ISLAMABAD: Contrary to PTI’s commitment, the Punjab local government institutions have been crippled by the Punjab government incurring loss of billions of rupees.

Instead of decentralising its authority to empower the local government institutions, the PTI’s Punjab government soon after coming into power had barred the elected district councils, municipal corporations and municipal committees in all districts and tehsils of the province from pursuing any development project, on-going or new, without the approval of the Punjab government.

Consequently, development work of local government institutions in Punjab has been seriously affected, almost stopped, throughout the province for the last several months because of the provincial government decision to act as a final authority on any development project or scheme implemented by the district councils, municipal corporations, municipal committees etc.

It is learnt that this decision of the Punjab government has resulted into loss and wastage of billions of rupees. Not only that on their own the elected local governments could not initiate any new scheme and project but they are also unable to complete the on-going projects or do the maintenance work. These district and tehsil level elected bodies have their funding but they could not spend it.

Owing to this situation, extreme wastage and loss of public fund is feared because discontinuation of on-going projects and non-availability of maintenance work spoil the earlier work done and thus require more funds for completion and maintenance. The several months old bar on the elected local bodies, it is said, will also increase the cost of the projects, new or on-going.

Punjab Local Government Minister Raja Basharat when contacted appeared not really convinced with the Punjab government’s order. He said that the direction for Lahore’s sanction for any local government project was issued before he had taken the charge of local government department.

Raja Basharat said that after he was given the responsibility of local government, he is trying to facilitate the local government institutions in prompt sanction of their projects by the department. He said that he has conveyed to all concerned in the local governments that their project proposals would be sanctioned without any delay.

Within weeks of its coming into power, the provincial government through Punjab Local Government Board (PLGB) had conveyed to all Chief Officers of District Councils and Municipal Corporations, District Officers of District Council and Municipal officers of Municipal Corporations that they would be proceeded against under Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act 2006 (PEEDA Act) if tenders for any development project was invited without PLGB scrutiny.

The local governments were expected to send the detail description of scheme, full particular of the work, justification of the scheme, estimated cost, financial source, benefits and returns of the scheme, PC-I form and feasibility and images or photographs of the site, to PLGB for approval. Without the clearance from the PLGB, the local governments could not execute any project.

An official source in the PLGB confided to The News that following the government’s direction, there is hardly any work being done by the local government institutions. The source lamented that owing to this decision there is huge loss being caused to on-going projects and in cases of maintenance and repair.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and PTI have always been the advocate of strong local development system but in the case of Punjab these institutions have been rendered useless. This decision, it is said, has also rendered all LG and municipal services redundant. “Not a penny of work is allowed by local councils only because they are PML-N controlled,” a source said, adding that civic services in Punjab are getting worse day by day as the local bodies are not allowed to even use their own resources.

Owing to this situation a petition was moved by retired Col Mubashar Javed, mayor of the Metropolitan Corporation Lahore (MCL), in the SC a few months back apprehending that the PTI government may dissolve these local governments.

The petition stated that instead of empowering the local governments in the province under Article 140A of the Constitution, the Punjab government initiated usurping and encroaching upon the functions, power and authority of the local governments, especially those of the MCL, by denuding of the powers and authority vested with these bodies.

It said the devolved powers of the local governments were being abridged, diluted and impeded by the provincial government through the civil administrating and other unelected government servants/ administrators as well as the authorities/ companies like LDA, WASA, TEPA, PHA, LWMC etc in violation of Article 140.

According to the petition, the office of the Local Government and Community Development Department (LG&CD) secretary has almost paralysed the democratic working of the MCL as well as other local governments through issuance of verbal instructions/ orders to the senior officers/ staff of the local government.

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