On the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 with proposed amendments of 2021
The Local Councils Associations of Pakistan (LCA Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and ADLG) are playing their vital role to strengthen local democracy, enhancing leadership role, empowering networking for experience sharing, discussing common issues and finding possible solutions, raising united voices for more decentralization and endeavouring to ensure sustainable local governments across Pakistan. Worldwide, it is strongly believed that strong local government associations could be instrumental for effective united voices not only to develop consensus on common challenges and local solutions to local governments but to enhance the capacity and leadership role of councillors for municipal service deliveries and ensure dignified life of citizens also.
In a fragile state of local governments across Pakistan, local councils associations are struggling to establish local democracy at all levels. This includes implementation of constitutional articles 140-A, 32 and 37-I, cases in the high and supreme courts, engaging media and influential civil society, mainstream political parties, relevant bureaucracy and donor community. Within the structures of the association, district executive committees one in each district of Pakistan comprising at least thirty representative councillors aim to meet regularly to discuss and lean on above mention agenda items. The immediate past councillors still are community leaders, constituents have great trust in them, and ask them for support to solve their petty and major issues those not allowing healthy and dignified life. Essentially, in the absence of elected local government, they have fewer opportunities to meet on regular basis, however, district executive committees under the forum of local councils associations still have a place to meet, discuss and react to emerging challenges.
Relevancy of Action
Local Councils Association of the Punjab, in partnership with Commonwealth Local Government Forum, European Union, LCA Baluchistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Association for Development of Local Governance are endeavouring to strengthen the institutional capacity of the associations to contribute to good governance and local development. Under expected result areas of two and four of the programs, it was envisioned to increase local government leaders’ understanding of effective leadership, capacity and knowledge for sustainable local development.
Details of the Workshop
In the prevailing situation, it has become more important. The committees of the associations must meet regularly to discuss, engage media and stakeholders to influence decision-makers to return to local democracy across Pakistan. Moreover, all four provinces are introducing new dimensions and policies for local governments aiming to empower local governments. During the district executive committee meetings, the champions of local government would also have the opportunity to know about the new structures, eligibility of candidates and how to run for elections. The data collected from the district executive committee sessions can be used to formulate effective strategies to lobby and advocate for the restoration of local democracy.
The overall objective of the district executive committee meeting is to enhance understanding of main features of new laws of local governments, enhance their role to raise collective voices for elections and realize the decision-makers about the miseries of community in the absence of elected local governments
Mr Anwar Hussain, CEO LCA Sindh, conducted this meeting as Convenor. The specific objective of this meeting was to share the latest development regarding local government laws, the intentions of governments, the election commission of Pakistan and the efforts of local councils’ associations, also to increase knowledge and understating on new local government laws and the importance of local governments.
The main features from the Local Government Act Sindh 2013 with proposed amendments of 2021 were highlighted that includes, Methods of elections, Composition of Councils, Functions of Councils and Devolution of Departments.
It was then discussed that the term of the local governments in Sindh had expired on Aug 30, 2020, and that the commission was under constitutional and legal obligation to hold the local bodies polls within 120 days of the expiry of the tenure. After long efforts by local government officials, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a final deadline of two weeks to the Sindh government to provide prerequisites for holding local government elections in the province.
Expected outcomes of this workshop were that councillors will step forward effectively in the Local Government system, will amend the policies that left some drawbacks in the previous tenure, will have a better understanding of the new system, functions of councils and their responsibilities as councillors.
It has been planned that as ECP passed an order for setting LG elections, so there will be no delay from local government bodies in providing required assistance because it will be against the violation of Article 140A and 219(d) of the Constitution, the Elections Act, 2017, as well as a judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.