LAHORE - A consultative meeting held under the aegis of Citizen Commission for Human Development (CCHD) here Thursday noted that there existed some overlapping in the functions of provincial and local governments which needed to be removed for effective delivery of services.

The participants identified health, education and water as the areas where the government needs to bring clarity for appropriate division of mandates and resource allocation and expenditure between the two tiers of government.  

“While such ambiguity may be a temporary repercussion of the fresh implementation of the 18th Amendment, these areas must be well-defined and maintained as such” the meeting held in its recommendations.  

The participants which included media men and local government experts, were of the view that local bodies remained legally impaired and highly dependent on the provincial government. Several authorities of the Punjab Local Government Commission sound contradictory to the autonomy of the local government and the local assembly complementing the democratic dispensation at the local level, they pointed out.

In their view, as the arena between the provincial and local government remained contested, a sustained way out needed to be worked out wherein the provinces should provide local governments with the requisite mandate and resources to encourage larger citizens participation and also empower and capacitate it into generating potential for local developments.

They also stressed the need for setting up of independent bodies to not only monitor local governance, but also lubricate the political relationship between the provincial and local tiers of government.

They observed that 18th Amendment was meant to increase efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of departments; but, reservations persisted on its adequacy, particularly in continuing and reinforcing local government as an essential institution of the provincial governments.

In one of its recommendations, the meeting emphasized the need to create an independent Election Commission with the consent of opposition leaders which it said was direly required to conduct free and fair elections at local levels.

It also recommended that the Federal Government and the parliament need to legislate solid accountability measures to end corruption and mal-practices in all tiers of governance. At the same time, the provincial government of Punjab must create a viable accountability system to end corruption, misappropriation and embezzlement especially at the local level.

Assessment of the local government thus must remain an activity independent from political influence by the local bureaucracy.