ECP may hold LG polls: ‘Inactive’ local authority lacks paraphernalia
By Intikhab Hanif
LAHORE: The Punjab local election authority has not as yet been activated mainly because of the hint that the local polls might once again be made a subject of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under the constitutional reforms package, official sources informed Dawn on Thursday.
They categorically said the authority, which had been provided for in the latest amendment to the Local Government Act 2001, had not been activated.
“The government appears satisfied only with the appointment of administrators for the local councils,” a senior official said.
The local election authority had not ceased to exist despite the provision in the controversial Local Government Ordinance 2001 that elections to the local governments will be conducted by the ECP. Since then it is maintaining at least its headquarters, making the provincial government pay salaries to its chairman and members who mostly are senior officials.
The official said there had been an indication that the constitutional reforms package would allow the ECP conduct the local elections while doing away with the 17th Amendment.
If this was done, Punjab would also be bound to ask the ECP to conduct the next local elections, he said.
He said the Sindh government had already agreed to have the next local elections by the ECP. This could also prompt the federal government to request other provinces follow suit for uniformity, he said.
The official said the Punjab local election authority had not been activated as yet because of lack of any election schedule. It would naturally be asked to prepare for the elections only if a schedule for it was announced, he said.
The official agreed that the local election authority did not have basic paraphernalia for holding the next local elections because it had been doing nothing for the past 10 years.
It was yet to be seen whether the election authority, if at all activated, would request the ECP to assist it in holding the next elections or go for them independently.
The second option looked difficult because it was the ECP which had assistant election commissioners in every district, electoral rolls and other necessary apparatus, the official said.
Websites: All town and tehsil administrators were asked on Thursday to immediately develop their websites and display on them monthly statements of accounts, indicating expenditures and receipts.
This will not only help ensure transparency of the financial matters, but also sensitise the people about development projects and pace of work.
The direction was given by Punjab Local Government Minister Sirdar Dost Muhammad Khosa while presiding over a meeting here.
He said the people had the right to get information about financial matters of their towns and tehsils, and they should be facilitated by the administrators in this regard. Billions of rupees were transferred to district governments and TMAs in the name of development projects, but even elected members of local bodies knew nothing about those transactions. So far as public was concerned, it was deprived of the basic amenities such as clean drinking water, sewerage, street lights, cleanliness etc.
The minister asked the administrators not to compromise on removal of encroachments, supply of clean drinking water, sewerage, streetlights and cleanliness. People must feel a visible change between the nazims’ era and the work of administrators, he said.
He said the administrators should be trendsetters. They should set such trends in the field of public service which the next elected members of local councils should be forced to follow.