The Punjab cabinet approved in principle the Punjab Local Government Bill 2012.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif presided over the meeting in which a cabinet committee was formed to further vet the bill. Later, the bill will be moved in the Punjab Assembly for its passage to become an act, officials said privately.
The main points of the bill are that the LB election will be held on an apolitical basis, the bill would restore the designation of deputy commissioner in the district, reserve 5% quota for youth and minorities, and 33% for women in the local governments, and restore the slots of mayor and chairman for local bodies, they said.
Four years of distorting Musharraf’s LGO
The Punjab government’s first step to distort Musharraf’s local government ordinance (LGO) was in 2008, when it appointed commissioners and collectors at divisional and district level, respectively, as per Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill 2008. After that, the government extended the tenure of district nazims instead of holding local body elections.
The Punjab government amended LGO 2001 and appointed administrators in place of nazims. Its second amendment allowed not holding elections for a year and the third amendment extended LB polls by another six months. The term of last amendment will end in the last week of June 2012.
With the last legal cover for not holding LB elections expiring in June, the Punjab government has completed its work on LB bill, which was likely to pass easily in the upcoming assembly session, but the question about holding local body election in the province will remains unanswered.
History of PLGO 2001
Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2001 was introduced by General (R) Pervez Musharraf in 2001 and later after the insertion of Article 140-A constitutional cover was provided to the local bodies’ system in 17th amendment.
Under 140-A provincial governments are duty bound to establish a local government system and devolve the administrative and financial powers to the elected representatives of the local government. The chief election commissioner on request of the provincial government is responsible to hold the local body’s election after the expiry of the term of four years.
In the 18th amendment, article 140-A was preserved and is still intact but Punjab government instead of holding the elections preferred to appoint the administrators in all districts of the province and delayed elections through twice amended in PLGO 2001.
However, when contacted, a spokesman for the Punjab government has said that Punjab cabinet has not taken any decision with regard to holding the local government elections on party or non-party basis. The spokesman said that the decision with regard to holding local government elections on party or non-party basis “has been left to assembly.”
The Express Tribune