ISLAMABAD, Sep 28 : Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhary Fawad Hussain on Tuesday stressed that a fully empowered local government system was imperative to address the problems of the people at grassroots level.
Addressing a National Conference on ‘Future of Local Government’ here, he said this was a futuristic system and also constitutional obligation, therefore every person having political sagacity should endeavor for the establishment of a local government system.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan believed from day one that people’s problems could not be resolved without a strong local government system.
The Minister regretted that the local government systems established in Punjab and Sindh in the past were not fully empowered as the funds were not transferred to them. Fawad pointed out that under the 18th amendment, powers were devolved to the provinces but these were not further transferred to the local bodies. He said that during the past three years Rs 2300 billion were transferred to Punjab, Rs 1700 billion to Sindh, Rs 900 billion to KPK and Rs 700 billion to Balochistan.
He said that provinces were empowered under the18th amendment but those powers have not been devolved to the local level. He said that provincial finance commission awards were not constituted and funds were not transferred to the district level which was one major cause of problems of the people at grassroots level.
He said that non-implementation of Article 140-A was the biggest problem. He said that Imran Khan’s petition on Article 140- A was still pending in the court. He said that the biggest opposition to local governments was coming from Chief Ministers of the provinces.
He said that the provincial government of Sindh was not undertaking any development projects in Karachi which voted for PTI in the 2018 elections. He said that the federal government has started the Karachi Circular Railway project but how could the problems of Karachi be solved by sitting in Islamabad. He said due to the lack of a system, the money of the provinces was not spent on different districts on an equal basis.
He said that former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif spent a major chunk of the provincial income on Lahore only. He said that the Orange train project cost $ 260 million and even today the amount of subsidy was collected from other districts. He said that despite sanctions, Tehran generated $ 500 million for the welfare of its residents whereas Mumbai generated $ 1 billion every year and Pakistan should also develop such type of system for public welfare.
The minister said that the journey from dictatorship to democracy in the world was gradual.
The minister said that the monarchs used to be called shadow of God and they considered ruling a divine right. However, after Magna Carta in 1215 , democracy started taking roots and world started moving towards democracy from dictatorship, he remarked.