LAHORE - After a wait for seven long years, the local government institutions in Punjab got their political heads yesterday.

Lord mayor, mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and the vice chairmen of one metropolitan corporation, 10 municipal corporations and 182 municipal committees took oath of their respective offices last day, relieving bureaucrats from their responsibilities of managing administrative and financial affairs of local governments in urban Punjab. Prior to that district coordination officers (DCOs) were performing duties of nazims as administrators in the wake of end of the local government tenure in October 2009. The local government setup in rural areas has also put in place with chairmen district councils taking oath of their respective offices. The ruling PML-N has come up ahead of all winning 27 of the 33 districts. 

Returning officers administered oath to newly-elected heads of local governments at respective offices. The maiden meeting of councils including the only metropolitan corporation in the province, Metropolitan Corporation Lahore, will be held tomorrow (Monday) with new political bosses in the chair.

With the functioning of local governments under recently promulgated Ordinance, the Mushraf era system of DCOs will give way to the British Raj system that revolves around all powerful deputy commissioners.

As the necessary infrastructure including offices and manpower already existed with availability of budgetary allocations for compulsory expenses, the government only needed to provide resources for development purposes. The Punjab chief minister has already announced to increase allocation of funds for local governments by 44 per cent in the next provincial finance commission award. As per the CM, allocation for local governments will be increased from existing Rs274 billion to Rs391 billion. The government has already initiated the process of setting up audit committees, public safety commission and coordination committees to facilitate functioning of the local governments in various fields including maintenance of law and order, controlling crimes and keeping a strong check on the utilization of funds.

The newly-elected Lord Mayor of Metropolitan Corporation Lahore Col (r) Mubashir Javed and his team comprising nine deputy mayors took oath of their offices at a ceremony at Jinnah Hall.

Returning Officer Mehmood Tamana administered oath to Mr Mubashir and deputy mayors namely Waseem Qadir, Nazir Sawati, Ijaz Ahmed Hafeez, Mehar Mehmood Ahmed, Mian Muhammad Tariq, Muhammad Bilal Chaudhry, Haji Allah Rakha, Mushtaq Mughal and Rao Shahabuddin. Elected councilors, government officials and notables attended the ceremony. After taking oath, the lord mayor and his team visited the offices at Jinnah Hall. He (Mr Mubashir) will formally assume charge as lord mayor after the first meeting of the council at Aiwan-i-Iqbal tomorrow (Monday).