Karachi - Amid opposition boycott, the Sindh Assembly on Monday hurriedly introduced and passed six bills including The Sindh Local Government (Third Amendment) Bill, 2023 for what the government termed ‘empowering’ local bodies across the province. Five new bills for establishment of water and sewerage corporations at Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Shaheed Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas as well the amended local government bill was included in the agenda, with the opposition complaining for not having copies of the bills prior to the sitting.
The Hyderabad Water and Sewerage Corporation Bill, 2023; The Mirpurkhas Water and Sewerage Corporation Bill, 2023; The Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah) Water and Sewerage Corporation Bill, 2023; The Larkana Water and Sewerage Corporation Bill, 2023; The Sukkur Water and Sewerage Corporation Bill, 2023; and The Sindh Local Government (Third Amendment) Bill, 2023 were introduced and passed simultaneously. Soon after the first bill was taken up, opposition lawmakers began complaining for not having copies of the bills or just receiving the same.
Muhammad Hussain Khan of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan said that they were not against the bills for establishing water and sewerage corporations but the way the legislation was being done, it was ‘inappropriate’. He said that the members were not provided copies of the bills prior to the sitting, which he said against the rules and procedures. “It is better to pass these bills by blindfolding the opposition members,” Hussain said before staging a token walkout along with other MQM-P lawmakers. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla said that he was amazed with the walkout as the bills were aimed at ‘empowering’ local bodies.
“The Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sindh government is devolving powers at council level as per its promise,” he added. Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro said that the provincial government wanted to empower the local bodies so that they could serve the people in a better way.
‘Over 100 opposition’s bills not taken up’ After token walkout, Opposition leader Rana Ansar was of the view that on the one hand the government was ‘hastily’ passing many bills, but on the other hand over 100 bills submitted by opposition members were not being tabled.
She said that MQM-P’s Muhammad Hussain Khan, Grand Democratic Alliance’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s Syed Abdul Rasheed had submitted many private bills but they were not being tabled.
“Even if few of our bills are incorporated in the agenda on private members day, they are not taken up,” the opposition leader said before the MQM-P, MMA and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan boycotted the proceedings.
The Sindh Local Government (Third Amendment) Bill, 2023 empowered inspectors of the local councils across the province to take cognizance of as many as 67 offences under the Act, including non-payment of local government taxes and levies, and impose penalty of fine up to Rs50,000 on violators.
The amended law also enabled the local council to file a case against the repeated offender of an offence to file a case before the court for a penalty not exceeding Rs500,000 or imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with both. Reconstitution, reorganization of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, KMDC Separately, the Assembly also passed The Karachi Metropolitan University Bill, 2022 for reconstitution and reorganization of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and Karachi Medical and Dental College as the Karachi Metropolitan University. “In view to provide facilities of higher education in Sindh in the medical sciences and other distinctions and for the purpose to provide instruction, training, research, demonstration, diploma, certificate and to award degrees to the graduate and post graduate students, it is expedient to establish a university in the public sector,” the statement of objects and reasons of the bill read.