Saturday January 29, 2022

Opposition declines ‘informal’ offer to negotiate on controversial LG bill

December 07, 2021
Opposition declines ‘informal’ offer to negotiate on controversial LG bill

Declining the Sindh government’s ‘informal’ offer to negotiation on the recently passed Sindh Local Government Amendment Bill 2021, the three major opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly on Monday said that the consultation on the issue was only possible if the Pakistan Peoples Party’s provincial government withdrew the authoritarian amendments.

The announcement to this effect was made at a joint press conference on Monday addressed by the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Haleem Adil Sheikh, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) parliamentary leader Muhammad Hussain, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) parliamentary leader Husnain Mirza, and PTI parliamentary leader Bilal Ghaffar.

They said the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 and recent amendments were unconstitutional and in violation of the law of land and human rights, and all the opposition parties would stage protests against it across the province and organise a sit-in outside the Chief Minister House, if required.

Sheikh said that all the opposition parties had declared the provincial government's informal offer for talks meaningless as the opposition should have been consulted before introducing the bill in the provincial assembly.

The opposition parties had consulted on the amendment bill and agreed that under the proposed law, the local governments in Sindh had been deprived of whatever limited powers they had before, he said.

The opposition leader said that they had conveyed their concerns to the Sindh governor and informed him that the bill was passed by the Sindh Assembly in an illegal, unconstitutional, and non-parliamentary manner.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) knew that it could not win the next elections by vote, that is why it wanted to win through notes, he said. “We also do not accept the Local Government Act 2013 which deprived LG bodies of Sindh, especially Karachi, of their powers, '' he said. “Now, the PPP has introduced more amendments in contravention to the Articles 7, 8, 32 and 140-A.”

The opposition leader maintained that the amendment bill enabled anyone to become a mayor and chairman even if he was unable to win from his union council. He pointed out that the bill also did not include the tenure of elected members and chairman or mayor.

“Furthermore, the secretary local government might delegate or deprive LG bodies of any of their power including levy of a tax,” he said. Referring to the offer for talks on the bill made by Sindh Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Sheikh said that it was an informal offer and if the Sindh government was serious, the leader of the House should have contacted the opposition in a formal way.

“The entire Sindh has reservations on the bill, and all the political and social stakeholders have expressed their concerns in this regard so we cannot hold closed-door negotiations.” The PTI and MQM-P had submitted separate local government bills in the assembly that were not presented on the floor of the house, he said. “Those bills could be considered the input of the respective parties,” he remarked

The MQM-P parliamentary leader said that all the political parties of Sindh in or outside of Parliament had serious concerns over the amendment bill and they were protesting against it as all the stakeholders and even higher courts believed that the people of the province could not be provided relief without the devolution of administrative, financial and political powers to the local government institutions.

The GDA’s Mirza said that the bill was approved in haste by bulldozing the assembly rules. He said the GDA rejected the illegal and unconstitutional bill. PTI’s Ghaffar pointed out that there was no citation of the Article 140 A of the constitution in the SLGA 2013 nor did it provide for the devolution of power. “The PPP wanted to make the local government subordinate to the provincial government.”