KARACHI - The ruling PPP has declared that the powers of provincial departments would not be devolved to municipal corporations and district governments.
It may be noted here that the MQM, a major ally of the ruling PPP in the provincial and centre governments, in its proposal of local government act 2012, demanded more powers for district governments that included police, land, education and other provincial departments.
The powers of the provincial departments were devolved to the local governments under a devolution plan of local government ordinance 2001, introduced by former army ruler retired general Pervez Musharraf.
The law minister, however, termed the devolution plan of Musharraf as a failed system which, according to him, could not be enforced in the province.
Asked about the deadlock between the PPP and MQM regarding powers for local governments, the PPP leader said there was no deadlock and that the PPP wanted powers for local governments in the light of the Constitution while the MQM demanded more powers for them.
Soomro declared that the present government would follow the Constitution that did not allow devolution of provincial powers to district governments.
The minister said that President Asif Ali Zardari had directed the provincial government to prepare a new governance system in accordance with the interests of the people of Sindh.
Showcasing achievements on deliberations between the two sides, the minister said the core committees of the PPP and MQM had finalised discussion on 40 pages out of a total of 151 page-long local government proposal of the MQM. He claimed that about 28 clauses had been cleared through consensus. In all, three different proposals, one each from the PPP, MQM and PML-F, were being deliberated upon.
Soomro, however, hoped that the PPP and MQM committees would successfully prepare the local government act 2012 this year. Having done with it, the government would give briefings to other ally parties, including the PML-F, PML-Q, NPP and ANP, on the new law, he said while adding that the government would incorporate suggestions from other parties if these were in the interest of the province.
The law minister also said that it had been decided that status of municipal corporations would be increased to four cities/districts, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana, where mayors and deputy mayors would serve as elected heads, while there would be district councils in the remaining districts that would be headed by district chairman and vice-chairman. He said that the number of towns would be enhanced to 26 in Karachi against the earlier number of 18, which were abolished after expiration of the 2001 local government ordinance in the province.
The city’s municipal services will run under the Karachi Municipal Corporation, but the proposal to ensure existence of district councils was under consideration, so that rural areas could be looked after through district councils.
Soomro further said if local government elections were held at the end of this year, then the next general elections would be delayed.
He said that the 1979 local government system was a brainchild of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and later copied by dictator Zialul Haq through 1979 local government system. He said that presently, the 1979 local government system law was intact in the province.
He added that the government wanted local government elections on the new law of local government act 2012 that would be finalised this year, however, if the Supreme Court ordered, the government was ready to hold local government elections on the law of 1979.