Tuesday October 19, 2021

Speakers term role of local govt vital for sustainable development

June 20, 2021

Islamabad : Local governments play a vital role in the sustainable development with effective participation of the people.

However, this tier of the governance must be strengthened and empowered including fiscal resources to perform and deliver effectively.

The speakers from diverse background of expertise on governance systems said this while sharing their views with the participants during the webinar ‘Local Government, challenges, strategies, and the way forward’ held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Saturday.

Altaf Baluch, Secretary Local Governments, South Punjab, informed the participants that Article 140 exists in law which bound for financial, political, and administrative independence of local government.

However, laws and rules should not be changed to serve certain political objectives of political parties in power.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, joint executive director, SDPI, remarked that we have been drifted away from the ideal and are willing to settle for less than desired local govt models.

This has happened because local governments serve limited rather than community-wide objectives.

He added further that on contrary to the spirit of 18th Amendment that highlight the importance of local governments, the idea has not been fully yet.

He said that the SDG 11 also recognises the need for local development.

Executive Director SDF, Zahid Islam, on the occasion opined that the biggest challenge for the effective local government is the ambiguity in the legal framework.

He said that no binding law or enforcement for establishing and conducting local government activities exists currently.

Ejaz Hafeez, local government expert, was of view that the elected governments do not want to conduct local elections to keep funding and power in the hands of ruling party instead of sharing the resources with locally elected governments.

Aftab Alam, executive director IRADA, emphasised that we need to analyse the situation about local governments in Pakistan’s perspective where political parties have been targeted through the local government system.

He added further that we must involve people and empower them to hold the system accountable. Moreover, bureaucracy must support elected institutions rather than rule and govern.

Mushtaq Ayaz, Chairman UC-14, Karachi Central, emphasised that the right to information and transparency must be given to the public and therefore we need reforms. He said that trainings for local representatives on their mandate and use of resources is equally important.

Former District Member, Peshawar, Barrister Mubashir Manzoor, said that devolution process cannot be reversed at the whim of the governments. The knowledge sharing and ownership is required to strengthen the system and to make it sustainable.