KARACHI - The Sindh government on Thursday announced to hold local bodies’ (LBs) polls in the province as early as possible as the existing LBs were going to complete their term on 29th. Presiding over a provincial cabinet meeting here, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the government had also decided to 

amend the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA), 2013 for ensuring robust local bodies’ system and appointment of administrators.

The chief minister said that the Sindh government was an exception in the sense that it had allowed LBs to complete their tenure. “We had allowed Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar to work from jail, but didn’t deprive the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) of the mandate people of the city had given to it,” he said.

Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the SLGA-2013 would be amended to further strengthen the local bodies.

Therefore, with the approval of the cabinet, he formed a sub-committee, consisting of Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Advisor Works Nisar Khuhro, Advisor to the CM on Law Murtaza Wahab, to present their recommendations within a month.

Murad Shah directed the committee to consult all the parties and stakeholders while drafting the amendments.

The cabinet directed the local government department to issue a notification on the completion of four years term of all local councils on August 29, 2020.

The chief minister told the cabinet that elections for two provincial assembly seats in Malir and Umerkot, which had been lying vacant since the deaths of Ali Mardan Shah and Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, could not be held due to the COVID-19. He said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had now sought the assent of the provincial government to hold the elections.

The cabinet requested the ECP to hold free and fair elections in both the constituencies under the COVID-19 SOPs.

The cabinet also requested the election body to increase polling time to 12 hours from eight hours due to the pandemic restrictions. 

Import of wheat: Sindh chief minister told the cabinet that the wheat consumption in the province had been recorded at 5.6 MMT against which 3,8 MMT had been produced during the current crop year that showed a shortfall of 2 MMTs. 

“Earlier, this shortfall was covered by procuring wheat from Punjab, but this time there is little likelihood of borrowing wheat from Punjab; therefore the government will have to import it,” Murad said.

The cabinet discussed the matter and decided to import 1.5 MMT through TCP for which secretary Finance and Secretary Food would work out a mechanism. 

The cabinet appreciated the provincial government for running Aman ambulance service in the city. The cabinet also approved the release of Rs300 million grant for the service.

The chief minister directed the health secretary to ask the Aman management to add 50 more ambulances to their fleet. 

E-stamp rules: The BOR presented draft e-stamp rules, 2020. The cabinet was told that a unique identification number referred to as e-stamp Id, quick response code at the bottom of e-stamp; date and time of issuance of e-stamp; amount of stamp duty paid in the bank for the purchase of the e-stamp are being introduced. 

PRC Appellate body: The cabinet was told that issuance of domicile/PRC to non-residents issue had cropped up against which the chief minister had constituted an inquiry committee. The committee after inquiring into the matter forwarded 40 appeals from District Larkana, 26 from Kashmore.

Therefore, the directives of the chief minister, the home department proposed a five-member Sindh PRC appellate committee comprising Home Secretary as chairman, secretary law, secretary U&B, registrar ATC, Home department, and additional secretary (judicial) as its members. The committee would hear appeals against PRC domiciles. The cabinet approved the committee.  

FATF Action Plan: The Sindh Cabinet, on the recommendation of the federal government, approved amendment and introduction of new laws such as `The Sindh Waqf Properties Act, 2020’ proposed by Auqauf & Zakat department, `Sindh Seized and Freezed Facilities (hospitals and Dispensaries) Act-2019’ by health department;  `Sindh Trust Act’ proposed by Industries department and `Sindh Seized And Freezed Institutions (Madaris and Schools) Act-2019 to control money laundering and terror financing as required under   Financial Action Task Force (FATF).