Punjab Local Govt Bill-2019 augments revolutionary change: Sumsam

LAHORE, May 01 (APP):Punjab Minister for Information and Culture Syed Sumsam Ali Bokhari said on Wednesday that revolutionary change has been augmented with the approval of Punjab Local Government Bill-2019 by the provincial assembly.

He was briefing senior journalists about the new local governments system here at 90 Shahra Quaid-i-Azan. Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, provincial ministers Noman Langrial, Sibtain Khan and Mohsin Leghari besides departmental secretaries concerned were also accompanied by him.

Sumsam Bokhari said that new local bodies system would ensure devolution of powers at grass roots level and equal distribution of resources, and all the areas would have equal opportunities of development.

He mentioned that Prime Minister chaired 15 meetings for the formulation of the bill, while thorough consultation process was also followed at all levels in Punjab.

On the direction of Prime Minister, he said, the Section regarding conduct of direct election at tehsils and cities was incorporated in the Local Government Bill 2019.

He said that earlier, the opposition paid no heed to the consultations on the bill but when it was presented in the Punjab Assembly, they all of a sudden came up with four amendments. The amendments were not in consonance with the rules but incorporated in the bill on the directives of the Speaker.

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat said that under new local bodies system, there would be direct election of mayor in all the cities, towns and tehsils that would further strengthen the democratic process, citing that in the past, a limited electoral college of councilors used to elect the mayor, which led to a number of complications and problems, besides encouraging the menace of corruption.

He said that this new local governments system would be one of its kinds in South Asia, adding that this system was already in place in Istanbul and London.

Raja Basharat added that under the new local system, the village council would be consisted of 3500 individuals, while in the old LG system, average population of a basic unit (union council) was 22,000. He elaborated that under the new system, total of 22,000 village councils and over 2,500 local councils would be constituted across the province. This would, he opined, ensure decision-making and provision of civil amenities at village and Mohalla level. In addition, the cities and tehsils would not only collect revenue but also have the powers to spent their receipts, he said.

The past rulers, he said, had spent the local governments funds on their political motives. He assured that 30 to 40 percent of the developmental budget would now be allocated for local governments.

Jahangir Khan Tareen said that new local governments system would eliminate the brothreeism (racism) and this would also help bring forth new leadership in society.

Though Punjab parliamentary opposition had announced to challenge the bill in the court, legislation was the prerogative of Punjab Assembly, he maintained.

He added that effective measures would be put in order for capacity building of local governments institutions.

Earlier, Punjab Local Governments Department’s Secretary Saif Anjum gave a detailed presentation about the salient features of the new LG system.