Awareness Sessions on New LG Legislation | DEC Workshops

On The Balochistan Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2019

Introduction

The Local Councils Associations of Pakistan (LCA Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and ADLG) are playing their vital role to strengthen local democracy, enhancing leadership role, empowering networking for experience sharing, discussing common issues and finding possible solutions, raising united voices for more decentralization and endeavouring to ensure sustainable local governments across Pakistan. Worldwide, it is strongly believed that strong local government associations could be instrumental for effective united voices not only to develop consensus on common challenges and local solutions to local governments but to enhance the capacity and leadership role of councillors for municipal service deliveries and ensure dignified life of citizens also.  

In a fragile state of local governments across Pakistan, local councils associations are struggling to establish local democracy at all levels. This includes implementation of constitutional articles 140-A, 32 and 37-I, cases in the high and supreme courts, engaging media and influential civil society, mainstream political parties, relevant bureaucracy and donor community. Within the structures of the association, district executive committees one in each district of Pakistan comprising at least thirty representative councillors aim to meet regularly to discuss and lean on above mention agenda items. The immediate past councillors still are community leaders, constituents have great trust in them, and ask them for support to solve their petty and major issues those not allowing healthy and dignified life. Essentially, in the absence of elected local government, they have fewer opportunities to meet on regular basis, however, district executive committees under the forum of local councils associations still have a place to meet, discuss and react to emerging challenges.Β 

Relevancy of Action

Local Councils Association of the Punjab, in partnership with Commonwealth Local Government Forum, European Union, LCA Baluchistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Association for Development of Local Governance are endeavouring to strengthen the institutional capacity of the associations to contribute to good governance and local development. Under expected result areas of two and four of the programs, it was envisioned to increase local government leaders’ understanding of effective leadership, capacity and knowledge for sustainable local development. 

In the prevailing situation, it has become more important. The committees of the associations must meet regularly to discuss, engage media and stakeholders to influence decision-makers to return to local democracy across Pakistan. Moreover, all four provinces are introducing new dimensions and policies for local governments aiming to empower local governments. During the district executive committee meetings, the champions of local government would also have the opportunity to know about the new structures, eligibility of candidates and how to run for elections. The data collected from the district executive committee sessions can be used to formulate effective strategies to lobby and advocate for the restoration of local democracy.

Overall Objective

The overall objective of the district executive committee meetings is to enhance understanding of the main features of new laws of local governments, enhance their role to raise voice for elections and realize the decision-makers about the miseries of community in the absence of elected local governments. 

Specific Objectives

The specific objectives are:

To share latest development regarding local government laws, cases in courts, the intentions of governments, the election commission of Pakistan and efforts of local councils associations;

  • To increase knowledge and understating on new local government laws, sensitize and realize to local media, community and government functionaries on the importance of local governments;
  • To enhance inclusion of marginalized segment of the society essentially of women in the coming local government elections. 

1. District Quetta (10 December 2021)

The President of LCA Balochistan opened the session and explained the need for Local Government members to understand the LG legislation of Balochistan (The Balochistan Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2019). He stated that LCAB with the collaboration of CLGD and the EU planned and arranged this drive to train LG members across the province. The outcomes of this drive will equally benefit women and men councillors.

M. Ali Satakzai, Chief Officer Local Government Department Balochistan delivered the Awareness Sessions to the Ex. District Councillors from District Pishin. The Agenda includes the updated information on the existed Balochistan Local Government (Amended) Act, 2019. Mr Ali briefed about the different sections of the law to the participants. The structure, responsibilities of the local government members, and eligibility criteria were among the prominent areas from the law to be briefed in the awareness session.

M. Aslam Rind (Information Secretary LCAB) briefed the participants on the current situation of LG in Balochistan and the foreseeing possibilities of LG elections. He said the Election Commission has started the delimitation process and soon the next processes will be formed. He reiterated the need for more informed LG members in upcoming elections to deliver more to their communities.

The Agenda moved to record valuable recommendations to be utilised later in the recommendations to concerned stakeholders to amend the law.
In the end, the participants tendered thankful remarks for the Local councils Association of Balochistan to arrange this fruitful session with the partnership of CLGF and the EU.

The President of LCA Balochistan delivered closing remarks and committed to future collaborations and strong collaborations with the LG members of District Quetta.

Mr Javed Ahmed Khan Senior Member LCAB were thankful to all the participants and the LCA Balochistan President & Team (Umar Imtiaz Rana, Hasan Anwar and Maham Ahmed) for providing all the technical support.


2. District Pishin  (11 December 2021)

M. Ali Satakzai, Chief Officer Local Government Department Balochistan delivered the Awareness Sessions to the Ex. District Councillors from District Pishin. The Agenda includes the updated information on the existed Balochistan Local Government (Amended) Act, 2019. Mr Ali briefed about the different sections of the law to the participants. The structure, responsibilities of the local government members, and eligibility criteria were among the prominent areas from the law to be briefed in the awareness session.

The Agenda moved to record valuable recommendations to be utilised later in the recommendations to concerned stakeholders to amend the law. The recommendations from the participants are listed below:

  1. A unified & sustainable local government system all across Pakistan considering regional reservations.
  2. Networking and learning opportunities from the countries where the LG system is strong. Training should be compulsory for councillors. Good practices should be borrowed from developed countries.
  3. Development funds should be increased as Balochistan has a lot of potential and margin to be utilized for innovative development projects.
  4. The contradictions of the BLG Amended Act, 2019 with the Election Act 2017 should be repealed.
  5. Inspiration from KPK LG Act, 2019 should be taken to amend the current BLG Act.
  6. Chairmen/Mayors and Vices should be directly elected & the budget should be passed by councils.
  7. Pishin should be declared as a Metropolitan City. Adjacent village areas can be included as village councils and neighbourhood councils.
  8. Councillors should be the sole authority to formulate development schemes for their area. The approval process should be simplified.
  9. The population of Union Councils should be declared as 7000 to 1000 individuals.
  10. Regular and timely District Sessions should be arranged and violations of punctuality should be catered seriously.
  11. Literacy restrictions should be applied for candidates to be elected as LG members.
  12. The monitoring system should be more strengthened to curb corruption and bribery menaces.

In the end, the participants tendered thankful remarks for the Local councils Association of Balochistan to arrange this fruitful session with the partnership of CLGF and the EU.

The President of LCA Balochistan delivered closing remarks and committed to future collaborations and strong collaborations with the LG members of District Pishin. The President was also thankful to the women participants joining the session ignoring the cultural restraints and supporting women of Pishin.

M. Esa Roshan (General Secretary, LCAB) was thankful to all the participants and the LCA Balochistan President & Team (Umar Imtiaz Rana, Hasan Anwar and Maham Ahmed) for providing all the technical support.