LAHORE - The current local bodies system in Punjab may be hard to deliver because of extraordinary bureaucratic and direct control of government.

Contrary to the past, the local governments in this most populous province of the country, are being set on a party basis.

The Punjab government, which was earlier reluctant to establish the LG system, brought in the setup to be controlled by either nominated MPAs or bureaucrats.

Observers say that it was devised to rein in the opposition reps, if they come to power at grassroots level.

Former Election Commission secretary Kunwar Dilshad is unhappy with the system as, according to him, it doesn’t entertain the Article of 140-A of the Constitution that demands transfer of all administrative and financial powers to the local representatives.

He recalled that Election Commission Justice Abdul Qadeer had rejected a similar LG system because that was not protecting the civil rights at the local level.

He said that indirect election of five members of the bodies would put them under the control of the directly elected persons.

“Under the supra government authorities, the role of the Local Government representatives by and large would limit to indentifying the development schemes and making recommendations and then looking at the secretary or the DCO for their approval and release of the funds though they will be authorised to collect revenue,” the observers opined.

They will not get a share in the revenue unlike the preceding law, and no authority to independently frame and get passed their budgets.

Twenty-eight public service departments are either out of LG control or partially under their authority, they add.

Two major areas, education and health will be administered by the district authorities that will be jointly represented by elected representatives and the bureaucrats.

The chairman and vice chairman will be appointed by the government which will be authorized to replace them anytime.

The authority will also have a CEO to be appointed by the government which will hold them all responsible in case of any misconduct.

Education and Health are the two major areas which spend major funding of local government budget.

The local representatives’ subservience to the government appointed officers would make their role almost insignificance in the system, say the observers.

As to mayor and deputy major or chairman and vice chairman, a local government commission will regulate their authorities as the commission will be competent to delegate the powers.

At each local government a chief officer who will also act as principal accounting officer, will be appointed obviously for better coordination between the local governments but intrinsically to control decision-making and spending. They will also record minutes and keep the government abreast of the LG meetings.

The law envisages that the government may devolve power(s) to a local government with directions to carry out a specific project and would provide technical assistance and funds for the same.

The apparent reading of the provision shows that the whole choice will be of the government and local government representative will merely be a figurehead.

The UC will be competent to approve budget and determine the tax but they will not be authorized to collect the fees mainly commercialization, which has been major chunk of its resources in the past.

Approval and execution of the development schemes will be carried out by them but under strict control of the government appointees.

The law provides local funds that will include revenue collection of LGs but spending out of them will not be more than for satisfying loans, court decrees against them or conduct the election.

The local governments will have their share of funds on the recommendation of the Punjab Finance Commission which will be based on needs, backwardness etc of an area. And, the money will be provided after certification of the Punjab government.