Following years of mayors delegating functions to deputy mayors unofficially, the Punjab Local government commission has decided to seal the deal properly and has approved delegation of 10 powers of the mayor to deputy mayors. The powers transferred to deputy mayors included action against encroachments, approval of maps of houses up to 10 marla, launching dengue awareness campaigns, streetlights and launching development schemes in nine zones of Lahore. Previously, the mayor would often delegate functions to the deputy mayors, but this would provoke protest from the Union council chairmen had protested in the House for not having approval from the commission, thus being in violation of the Local Government Ordinance 2013.
This act of delegation of duties was one that should have occurred before, and is a conducive step into making our bureaucracy an efficient one. Delegation of duties is essential for effective management. Already the Pakistani bureaucracy is stiffed because everything is centralised; causing a massive backlog of cases and issues pending to be approved by the head. Genuine decentralisation of power, whereby political and financial powers are distributed among different tiers based on their capacity to deliver, is required for functionality.
This move also signifies an important step in emphasising and reforming the structure of our local governments. The 18th Amendment took the important step of devolving power from the centre to the provinces but devolving power down further has not proven easy. There have been consistent delays in formulating local government acts and holding local government elections, and when they have been held, it takes them a year to become functional.
Due to its sheer population, a country like Pakistan needs several layers of local governments to manage effective governance. Devolution can not only make social service delivery more accessible and accountable, but also help address inter and intra provincial grievances.