Local Body

Local Body

Pakistan’s third tier of the democratic system lacks genuine financial as well as well administrative powers to address the problem of the masses at grassroots level. The provincial Government have withheld the administrative and financial powers including revenue and real estate. Water management, development, education, police, transport, parks and solid and liquid waste management, under strict centralized regime Under the respective local government Acts, the financial powers have been transferred to the commissioner instead of the democratically elected Mayor, Nazim or Chairman. The powers of elected officials and their authority over subservient bureaucrats should be strengthened and defined clearly.

The main functions of district council include planning and construction of streets, roads, drains, laying water supply lines, organizing fairs, shows, sports and national celebrations, providing relief assistance after natural disasters or emergencies, approving bylaws, for which only resource of local taxes that is also with provincial government’s consent.

If the federal government was serious in devolving powers at the grassroots in real terms, it needs to amend the Constitution and fix a timeframe for holding the local bodies’ elections in the country, which is the basic part of the democratic system. The power of the provincial Finance commission should extend to the district level by giving due representation to the district council.

The crucial role of well-designed local government systems in enhancing the quality of governance and service delivery for the general population is confirmed by the experience of dozen of countries. But the importance of sufficient and proportionate political, administrative and financial devolution to Local Government is also well recognized by the literature on Local Government globally.

If the society is fragmented by ethnicity, religion, language, endowment of natural resources, or other conditions. Several cases have been documented in which a nation-state practical use of the principle of subsidiary has led to greater national cohesion and helped to deflate secessionist tendencies in particular regions.

Karachi, Mumbai and New York City have many things in common. All three are the biggest metropolitan areas and the economic hubs of their respective countries but still none of them is the capital of the country. Moreover, all three are multi-ethnic, religiously diverse and heterogeneous societies with a long history of community conflicts. Hence for all three, local governance is not only of critical importance but also a gigantic task considering the complexities and conflicts involved.

In USA all key local function are fully devolved to the Local government in New York City including the following:

  1. City planning 
  2. Health, Sanitation and water
  3. Education, including some components of higher education 
  4. Economic development and assistance  
  5. Parks and recreation 
  6. Police and public safety 
  7. Local transport, environment
  8. Partial control over airports, port and regional transportation

The City also has the ability to raise the following types of taxes:

  1. General property 
  2. General sales 
  3. Personal income 
  4. General Corp
  5. Commercial occupancy
  6. Banking corporation 
  7. Utility
  8. Unincorporated business
  9. Real property transfer 
  10. Mortgage recording
  11. Tax audit revenues 
  12. Cigarette 
  13. Hotel and others

  • The provincial government [by law bound to] exercised powers in accordance with the provisions of Article 137 & 142 for managing the province.
  • The question of devolving political, financial and administrative authority of provincial government to the local government in the light of Article 140-A of Constitution of Pakistan is to be managed with reference to Article 137 & 142 of Constitution of Pakistan and consultative process between the elected representatives of Provincial Assembly and Local Government for the betterment of people.
  • Article 137 and 142 of the Constitution of Pakistan clearly express “word subject to constitution” it means these provisions are to be read in the light of remaining provisions of constitution as such constitution has created the bare exercise power given by the constitution itself. On the other hand Article 140-A independent of any such bar. It means the provincial government should devolve its powers regarding political and administrative and financial authority to the local government to the local government.
  • Failure to devolve such powers / authority in letter and spirit on the local government would violate the Article 140-A of the Constitution.
  • Under the provisions 137, 142 & 140-A of constitution it is crystal clear that the provincial government must extend their power to local government however, Constitution of Pakistan give liberty to provincial government to specify the scope of such power in accordance with the circumstances and political realities of each and every province However Article 140-A specify the binding on provincial government have to devolve their powers to the local government.
  • It is therefore up to the provincial government to create a better political and social environment by transferring [devolve] their powers and creating a proper check and balance.
  • Elected representatives of the province must lay down through a legitimate political process better law for the local government elected representative to implement the better political administrative and financial authority for the masses.
  • There must be constitutional dialogue in between the federal, provincial and local government representative legislature of each province.