LAHORE - The PTI has planned to oppose Punjab government’s bill on local bodies in the provincial assembly, saying that the move aims at reviving the old system that heavily depends on the bureaucracy.

The PML-N government is expected to present the draft bill in house soon, and PTI says the draft is a copycat of local bodies ordinance of 1979 that would leave the future local public representatives at the mercy of the provincial authorities.

The leading opposition party in the Punjab Assembly wants the elections to be direct and party based. It is against separate governance system for urban and rural areas, and wants dual accountability mechanism for systemic transparency.

“We propose to establish a local government system that is independent financially and administratively,” PTI Punjab President Ijaz Chaudhry told The Nation on Sunday while sharing his party’s vision for devolution of power.

He maintained the government proposed system would make the local representative dependent on the divisional and district bureaucracy for carrying out the development projects, while the true devolution of power requires bureaucracy’s subservience to the elected representatives.

Ijaz said, “We strongly recommend party-based elections for local governance system, besides all tiers of the local government, including the district nazim, should be elected through direct elections.”

PTI Punjab president also said his party strongly recommends creation of community boards to monitor the delivery of services. He said that local government institutions should also be made accountable to the provincial assemblies and they should report to their respective houses when asked to do so.

The salient features of PTI’s plan for local governments are more or less the same as introduced by Pervez Musharraf’s team for devolution of power. Ijaz said, “What’s the harm in adopting the good elements of Musharraf’s devolution plan that guarantee services to the masses at the grassroots.”

He asserted the government proposed bill deprives the local governments of the essential financial and administrative powers without which the local governance is not possible. He added that Punjab government wants to introduce two separate local government systems for the cities and the villages through this bill, which would widen the gulf between the urban and rural population.

PTI leader said that provincial government desires to give all powers to DPOs and DCOs for maintaining law and order in its proposed bill which clearly reflects that the rulers want to keep their grip and continue their meddling in local affairs.

Ijaz informed that PTI’s Punjab committee for local government system and district committees have been directed to come up with new proposals for establishing a true local governance system before the local polls.

Local governments formed under the devolution plan of Musharraf government were dissolved in August 2009 after completing their four-year term. However, the nazims kept working until Feb 5, 2010 in Punjab when the provincial government amended the law to replace them with bureaucrat administrators.

The Supreme Court had directed all the provinces on July 18 for holding local body polls by end of September. But only the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where PTI is leading a coalition government, has expressed its readiness to meet this deadline.