Islamabad - Bureaucracy was still reluctant to empower local government system which is creating hurdles in the devolution of power to the grassroots level, said local government representatives on Saturday.

They said this at the concluding session of a four-day long capacity building workshop of local government officials of Strong Cities Network (SCN) Member Districts, organized by Individualland Pakistan (IL). Obaidullah Jan Babat, Minister for Forest and Wildlife Balochistan, Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini and MNA Sardar Kamal also spoke on the occasion. As many 21 local government representatives including mayors and councillors from Peshawar, Nowshehra and Quetta attended the workshop.

They said that MPAs and bureaucracy are creating hurdles in their way due to which they do not properly fulfil their responsibilities. “If local government representatives were not given administrative and financial power, the system would not give required results”, they said, adding that the main job of members of National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies is legislation but unfortunately in our country, they are focusing on developing projects instead of legislation. Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, speaking on the occasion, said that local governments have been in place in all provinces but no one is ready to empower it. “Local government representatives are more aware of public problems as compared to MPAs and MNAs. Therefore, they should be empowered to solve public problems”, he said.

Obaidullah Jan Babat Minister for Forest and Wildlife said that Balochistan government has given power and fund to local government representatives.

“We believe in democracy, therefore, making efforts to devolve power to grassroots level”, the minister further, adding that Mayors and local other government representative have given funds and they are executing projects. MNA Sardar Kamal said that local government will not succeed in Pakistan until it is made financially stronger. So far local system in our country is a formality as it has not given administrative and financial power, he said. He said that our society is not ripe for the complete devolution; therefore, we need to bring awareness among regarding the system. Executive Director IL Pakistan Gulmina Bilal Ahmad said that local government system is a necessity now and the decision to take the responsibility of strengthening local governments lies on the shoulders of political government. Her organization is focusing on promoting and strengthening democratic procedures and enhancing the role of citizens in governance.