KARACHI               -          Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the provincial government was paying electricity bills of the Local Bodies from last many year but our Local Bodies would have to be self-sufficient by rationalizing its non-development expenditures and increasing its tax collections and base. This he said on Wednesday while presiding over a joint meeting of Energy and Finance Departments to discuss the issues of power companies claims of electricity bill outstanding against Local Bodies.

The meeting was attended by Minister Energy Imtiaz Shaikh, Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Advocate General Salman Talib, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro Secretary LG Roshan Shaikh, Secretary Energy Musadiq Khan, Secretary Finance HassanNaqvi and other concerned officers.

The Chief Minister said that the provincial government has paid over Rs 22 billion power bills of Local Bodies from 2014-19.

He added that from 2016 all the bills of Local Bodies and the provincial government were clear and the bills of the years before the privatization of KESC were disputed.

The Chief Minister constituted a Committee comprising Minister Energy Imtiaz Shaikh, Minister Local Government Nasir Shah, Secretary Local Government Roshan Shaikh and Secretary Finance to prepare a plan so that onward Local Councils could pay their power bills. “How long the provincial government would be paying the bills of the Local Councils,” he stated.

In the meeting it was pointed out that there were some local councils which were over staffed and some others were under staffed and some were paying their salaries timely and some were releasing salaries in piecemeals. “This is not fair and must be rationalized,” the chief minister directed local government department.

The chief minister said that the provincial government was giving Rs100,000 per month to union councils but they were complaining for shortage of funds and them increased their funds to Rs200,000 but they kept crying for funds and now the provincial government was giving Rs500,000 to each union council but most of them fail to pay their salaries. “We have to improve our system and strengthen our local bodies,” he said.

Shah directed Secretary local government to meet with his local bodies and urged them explore ways and means to increase their revenue resources.

The chief minister also said that the privatization of KESC was unilateral between the company and the federal government. The provincial government was totally kept away from the process. Neither the liabilities of powers against local bodies were shared with the provincial government  nor the onus of payment of the bills were put on any institutions, therefore the provincial government has nothing to do with those bills, Mr Shah said.

The chief minister clear cut issued directive to the local government department to introduce reforms in local bodes, development a mechanism for payment of salaries, remove ghost employees, if and even check the pension record of the local bodies whether they were disbursed properly or not. NNI