Local government and the benefits
THE Sindh People’s Local Government System 2012, introduced by the PPP government, has triggered a wave of protests across Sindh.
Ever since the promulgation of the local bodies ordinance, Sindh has witnessed three strikes, besides numerous protests and processions.
There is widespread agitation and dissent among the people on the subject. The system is being termed a scheme to divide Sindh and a dual system aimed at creating a widespread rural-urban divide.
Some observers claim it to be a more lethal system than the local bodies system of the Musharraf era.
It is being said that by empowering the metropolitan Karachi, the system has inherent in it the division of their land which is not acceptable to any Sindhi and is against their sentiments.
However, a careful examination of the contents of the system transpires that despite carrying many loopholes in this system, the system on many accounts is fine-tuned. The government, therefore, deserved applause. As regards shortcomings of the system, no system is bereft of loopholes and the working comes to the fore.
To reject altogether is unwise and contrary to democratic principles. This becomes more important in view of the recent Supreme Court verdict, directing therein to the province to hold local bodies polls.
Thus, clause by clause and section by section debate on the ordinance will help evolve consensus among the stakeholders.
The Musharraf system was controlled by the federal government bypassing the tier of the provincial government whereas this system is introduced by the provincial government and is, therefore, their baby.
The provincial government can remove the nazim by issuing a show-cause notice through the chief executive, whereas there was no such provision in the erstwhile system.
The commissioner system was abolished altogether and only the DCO was retained who would control the entire affairs of the district without the office of assistant commissioner and the tier of commissioner at divisional level.
This system provides for the revenue commissioner system with commissioner at division level as regard the municipal services mayor through the newly-created office of the chief officer, thus creating two different realms.
The number of subjects handed over to local governments is far less than the ones handed over in the year 2001.
The present system empowers the local government to legislate and control the subjects pertaining to basic education up to primary level, basic health units but revenue collection does not fall in its domain.
The foregoing discussion makes it abundantly clear that if the present formula is adopted, it will remove many loopholes of the previous system. Above all, it is the brainchild of the provincial government, and any modifications can take place. This is a positive sign.
However, issues can be sorted out as local bodies are to stay. Simultaneously, the need of the hour is, therefore, to evolve consensus and address the grievances of the stakeholders.
ABRAIZ ALI ABBASI