By Anwar Khan
The treasury on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to pass ‘the Sindh Local Government (Third Amendment) Bill 2016’ into law despite the opposition screeching protest during the Sindh Assembly session.
The opposition rejected the third amendment to the law and blamed the ruling PPP for ‘delaying’ the final phase of local government polls in the province. But, the treasury said that the law had ‘no relations’ to the elections.
The law will allot powers to the Sindh government to control civic departments (local councils) through the Regional Directorate of Local Government. The government will enjoy powers to oversee the civic departments in a bid to ensure their activities are in line with the Sindh Local Government Act.
The provincial government will have a right to inspect the performance of local councils through the concerned regional directorate or by any of its inspection officer or team.
The inspection will be once in a financial year. The law says that a corporation, municipal or town committee can establish parks and gardens within their areas for the public recreations through public privatize partnership, adaptation of social organisations or by their own revenues.
Development of recreational places can also be carried out through a reputed local or global corporation. Such parks will be governed and maintained in line with the rules and regulations.
The opposition with tabling the bill in the house stood up from their seats and shouted ‘shame shame’ and ‘no no’. Amid the protest, Sindh Senior Education Minister Nisar Khuhro introduced the bill in the house.
In the meantime the opposition members came close to the speaker’s chair and chanted ’empower Sindh’, ‘go corruption go’ and ‘no corruption no’. However, the mover got the bill passed by a larger treasury into law despite the opposition rejection.
PML-F’s Shaharyar Khan Mehar told the house that the ministers of ruling PPP were planning to delay the holding of last phase of local bodies’ polls in the province.
“The minister of Sindh government did not want to see completion of the last phase of local government’s polls,” he blamed, saying that “they are therefore using delaying tactics”.
MQM’s Parliamentary Leader Syed Sardar Ahmed objected to the third amendment to the law, saying that “a bill for the third amendment to the Sindh Local Government Act has already been adopted and now for the second time the third amendment’s bill cannot be passed”.
Opposition Leader Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan of MQM said that amendments on the directions of Supreme Court to the law had been already made and no such new moves could be approved. “On the directives of the Supreme Court, amendments have been made to the law and after them no new amendments can be made,” he protested. He called the bill against the public interest and asked the government to end more experiments to the local bodies’ system.
In a reply to the opposition criticism, Nisar Khuhro said that the law had nothing to do with the polls. “The yesterday’s amendment to the law was on the directives of Supreme Court,” he told the house. He said that bill was aimed at assigning powers to local government departments to develop parks and gardens.
Sindh Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro said that the bill was a move to ensure a ‘check and balance’ on civic departments.
“There should be checks on mayor, deputy mayor, chairmen and deputy chairmen to bar them from allotting land unlawfully or utilise it illegally,” he asked, saying that the role of directors local government had existed in 1962 and 1979 local bodies laws but scraped in 2002.
The house also adopted Sindh Local Government (Fourth Amendment) Bill 2016 into law to introduce a mechanism, which governors polling of Senate, National and Provincial Assemblies, for election on the reserved seats in local councils.
The law restores the section 18-A of the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 to allot reserved slots to parties in a proportion of their general seats in local councils.
However, the election mechanism on reserved seats will not include union councils and committees. On which, Shaharyar Mehar asked the government to introduce an amendment to the law following the restoration of section 18-A since there was an ambiguity on holding of polls on reserved seats in union councils and committees.
However, the treasury voted out his amendment and passed the law. Shaharyar Mehar said that “we are compelled to go to the courts in this connection.” Khawaja Izhar also supported his stance on the law. The house will now meet on Friday.
Source: Business Recorder