Monday, August 12, 2013

Cabinet withholds approval of local govt draft bill - The News International


The Sindh cabinet has stopped short of formally approving the draft of the new local government bill to continue consultations with relevant political stakeholders.

The upcoming session of Sindh Assembly scheduled to be held on August 13 has also been postponed adjourned by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. The legislature would now take up the issue of adopting the Sindh Local Government Bill 2013 on August 19.

At the cabinet meeting held on Monday at the Chief Minister House, the lawmakers decided to continue consultations on the proposed local government law. The meeting was chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.

The proposed bill has been prepared and given the final shape by provincial law authorities with all the needed recommendations of the government and political quarters, making the bill ready for adoption by the legislature, insiders said.

The Sindh government has been trying to meet the deadline of mid-August given by the Supreme Court to finalise the local government law so that local bodies' elections could be held within the current year.

One of the main concerns of the provincial authorities has been the Eid-ul-Fitr and the upcoming holiday for Independence Day on August 14, making the available timeframe shorter.

"The cabinet has withheld the approval to include all the relevant political stakeholders whether they have due representation in Sindh Assembly or not," Sindh Law Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro told The News after the meeting.

"You can say the cabinet has given a sort of informal approval to the proposed local government bill with the condition to continue consultations," he said. "It is likely there will no more cabinet meetings on the bill before it is tabled in the next Sindh Assembly session for approval."


The ministerial committee tasked with the preparation of the proposed law presented the draft at the cabinet meeting. Several other cabinet members also presented their recommendations.

Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said the draft would be publicised through the official website of Sindh government. "The proposed local government law will ensure greater representation of elected representatives in the municipal bodies," he said. "The government has the foremost preference to provide justice to people at their doorsteps."

The information minister added the upcoming local bodies' elections in Sindh would be held on party basis. The draft would be given to all the political parties concerned and the ministerial committee would hold meetings for consultation on the proposed law with delegations of different political forces.

Under the proposed local government law, Karachi would have a metropolitan corporation with municipal corporations in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana and Mirpurkhas and municipal committees in smaller districts. There would be town committees in smaller towns of the province.

In Karachi's five districts, district municipal corporations would run the municipal affairs. Union committees would be the basic unit of the proposed system.

Before Eid-ul-Fitr, the provincial law minister had said the proposed bill would be unique in the sense that it would carry all the exclusive qualities of local government laws of 1979, 2001, 2012, the law imposed in 1960s and even the local bodies' laws and systems in practice in the region before Partition.

The meeting participants also approved the draft of the witness protection law to be enacted in the province.

The law would help prosecute suspected criminals in an effective manner while providing protection to witnesses giving testimonies against criminals.

A committee, including Sharjeel Memon, Manzoor Wasan and Sindh Chief Secretary Ijaz Chaudhry, was formed to submit recommendations to further beef up security in the "red-zone" of Karachi and to the resolve traffic congestion issues.

Memon said the lawmakers had approved tax exemption on construction of Karachi Circular Railway project, rebate on tax on import of machinery for the project and giving due facilitation in provision of land for building of the mass transportation project.
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