ISLAMABAD - It has been over eight months since the draft of an Ordinance - containing amendments in Capital Development Authority Ordinance 1960 with an aim to empower the civic agency to initiate developmental projects by holding joint ventures with private firms - is lying pending with the President’s office and still it’s unclear when it would be promulgated.

On May 23, 2012, the federal cabinet during its meeting had accorded approval to the proposed amendments to the CDA Ordinance 1960, the draft was later submitted with the President of Pakistan for promulgation of an Ordinance.

The draft of the Ordinance, a available with TheNation, provides insertion of some new sub-sections in the CDA Ordinance 1960.

The insertion of proposed Section 33C in CDA Ordinance would empower the authority to withdraw the already acquired land. The proposed Section 33C reads: “The Authority shall be at liberty to withdraw from the acquisition of any land, through issuance of a written notification at any time prior to taking possession, where the Authority has not paid compensation because of any reason or the Authority considers that the required land is no more required for the scheme, it was acquired for.”

“Currently, the CDA owes approximately Rs36 billion on the account of the land it acquired in past but not compensated the landowners. A huge chunk of this acquired land it of no use for CDA that is why we are trying to get rid of this debt,” commented a senior official.

While, when it comes to liberty to hold joint ventures, insertion of proposed Section 10A in CDA Ordinance provides the establishment of a “Public-Private Partnership Cell”.

The cell would consist of officers from within the CDA, other local bodies, agencies and may also include representative(s) from the Finance Department and independent technical and legal experts.

This cell shall identify suitable projects and prioritise these within its sector, appoint transaction advisors for project preparation and tendering, conduct a competitive tendering process, carryout bid(s) evaluation, negotiate and sign the agreement(s) after approval of Board and monitor and evaluate implementation and operations.

It also provides the establishment of a project implementation unit, which would oversee the day-to-day implementation of the project.

The city managers had sought the aforementioned amendments in CDA’s Ordinance on the grounds that the Authority does not have the financial resources to undertake development of new sectors and already owes huge amounts in respect of land acquired by it.

“The value of land in developed sectors continues to escalate leading to speculations, manipulation and inflation of prices by real estate agents and speculative investors which has caused great hardship for the genuine purchasers,” a solid reason stated by CDA behind this move.

“Development by holding joint ventures with private developers/partners is the proven model across the world. But unfortunately, five decades ago when CDA Ordinance was prepared it was not made part of the rules,” CDA Spokesperson Ramzan Sajid said.

“The apex court had struck E-11 joint venture on the basis of this lacuna in CDA Ordinance. But now, if Ordinance promulgated, there will be no hurdle in the authority’s way to develop stalled sectors,” Mr Sajid added. 

Sajid said that on one part the amendment would close the door of corruption while on other it would reduce the miseries of long-neglected affected peoples of several stalled sectors.

The CDA thinks that holding of a joint venture with private partners for infrastructure development project is the only way forward to resolve housing issues in the federal capital, Sajid observed. The matter of fact is that that the federal cabinet had reviewed it an earlier decision - where it had returned the aforementioned draft amendments asking the CDA to resubmit draft amendments to the CDA Ordinance 1960 as a legislative bill and not as an ordinance - keeping in view the request of the city managers that issue was of great urgency and that the process of getting Parliament’s approval would take enough time.

“Due to influx of public in Islamabad, the residential problems need to be resolved on urgent basis. Therefore, the cabinet decision is required to be reviewed for onward submission to the Honourable President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan for promulgation of an Ordinance instead of an Act of Parliament,” that request of the CDA was adhered by the federal cabinet by approving the draft of the ordinance. Since the short cut was adopted by the CDA to resolve that matter but now delay in signing the Ordinance by the President is adding to the worries of city managers.