PESHAWAR: Critics say KP local government system is far behind the reality, while the ruling PTI takes credit for introducing one of the best system in the province by devolving all powers to gross-root level.
“The sitting LG representatives are less empowered than that of were during a dictator Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf’s era.” Leader of the Opposition in Peshawar District Council Saeed Zahir told The News Eye.
The much-propagated LG system of PTI is just limited to paperwork, as there is nothing on the ground. “We see neither a single mega development project be launched by district government nor any other change for the betterment of the system further,” he said.
In the very first attempt, the LG Act-2013 was amended ‘not to devolve more powers’ but to “cut allocating 30% developmental budget for district governments” by Imran Khan’s PTI, former Naib Nazim Peshawar Raza Ullah said this while talking to this scribe.
However, Naib Nazim District Council Peshawar, Syed Qasim Ali Shah, thinks otherwise and defends the performance of his government claimed that “net of development program has improved”.
Listing a number of projects, he said that they had announced constructing a parking plaza at busy Namak Mandi, food-street and a modern shopping plaza along with state of the art club and mosque at Chamkani.
Talking to The News Eye, Mr. Raza Ullah, who belongs to the PPP informed that under the LG Act, 30% of the provincial developmental budget should go to district councils but it was reduced by the PTI.
So, in the prevailing situation, how could it be made possible to carry out these above-mentioned schemes, as “Annual development budget was about Rs80 million, but reduced to Rs64 million this year”. Thus, in such meager amount, only streets, pipes and tube lights can be managed not mega projects, he added.
Naib Nazim Qasim Ali Shah is not agree with the notion said that these projects would be completed in time, adding district government has enough means for the purpose, “there is no money problem at all”.
A PTI District Peshawar Councilor Noor Wali Khalil said that “My union council fund was more than Rs4 million, but now it has reduced to 2.8 million after the cut and I have already promised in my constituency. Deduction not only affected the mega developmental projects but also smaller one in different UCs”.
Noor Wali Khalil has secured his seat as independent candidate but later joined PTI contenders in district assembly said that if the situation remains the same it will not only affect the PTI development agenda, but also earn a bad name for the government and elected people.
Mr. Saeed is convinced that “In this tenure it is impossible to be completed, as district government Peshawar lacks funds”.
Criticizing the PTI for cut on 30% developmental budget, he said it is an attempt to limit powers of elected members of local government. “Limited resources are badly affecting the performance of district governments” Saeed Zahir, who had also served as district council Peshawar member from UC Gulburg explained.
Though CM Pervez Khattak wants to remove all hurdles in way but bureaucracy breaks our momentum, Naib Nazim Qasim Ali Shah said while blaming only civil servants not politicians.
However, the PTI Chief Imran Khan thinks differently as while talking to the BBC Urdu Service recently, he too raised questions on KP local government performance said that the KP LG system could not be implanted according to its letter and spirit. Because, “Bureaucracy and the PTI’s own provincial lawmakers create hindrance in the way” Imran Khan revealed.
Responding to Mr Khan’s comments, Syed Qasim Ali Shah said that “Being a sportsman Khan sahib wants perfection in every activity, and we might lacking it”.
Mr. Shah admitted cut on allocated local government budget but he made federal government responsible for this deduction. “Our provincial government doesn’t get own share from center which compel us to cut local government slice”, Qasim lamented.
Being one of the critics of the KP LG system, District Nazim Mardan, Himyat Mayar while talking to The News Eye says “The present local government system is actually a race between two “horses” (Bureaucracy and Provincial Assembly)”.
Affiliated with the ANP, Mr. Mayar who had also served as district Nazim Mardan during Musharraf’s tenure said that time district machinery used to report to district mayor, but now that is not happening anymore.
Prior consultation with district Nazim was mandatory for posting and transfer of high officials in district administration. But the PTI brought changes and made the system teeth-less, Himayat Mayar complaint. “Actually, the PTI was expecting more elected mayors in various districts, but it secured a few only, due to which, it had to amend roles of business showing its malafide intentions, Himayat denounced.
“In other words, I will say that too many amendments in the KP local government system has really polluted the idea of empowering elected-people,” Mr. Saeed Zahir was of the view.
Talking to The News Eye, Prof. Hussain Shaheed Saharwardi Chairman International Relation at University of Peshawar has done analysis of all provinces local government acts termed “KP local government act one of the refine and well designed, but made responsible the provincial assembly members for the failure, being not handed over power to LG representatives”.
Leader of the Opposition, Saeed Zahir lauded Gen. Musharraf’s local body district council power and decision making and disapproved with Imran Khan’s powerless act.
In Pakistani traditional politics LG would not be effective until one party rule all the provinces Saharwardi viewed. Prof Saharwardi called the KP LG law “the best in theory and worst in practice”.
According to article 148 of the constitution, “each province shall by law establish local government system and decentralize and devolve political, financial and administrative authority and responsibility to the elected representatives of the local government”.
However, according to Prof Hussain Saharwardi elected MNAs and MPAs consider LG representatives as a real threat to their selfish politics. “I will say they don’t want give much space to LG representatives and they only want developmental funds to impress voters in their constituencies,” he concluded.