LAHORE: At least 33 per cent representation for women at all levels of committees, councils, and boards in the newly proposed Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021 has been demanded by the participants of a seminar organised by Centre for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI).
A seminar for seeking recommendations for improvements in the ordinance was organised by the CPDI in collaboration with National Endowment for Democracy (NED) on Thursday.
The seminar was aimed at exploring the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in the newly proposed law.
The experts on local government, gender, politics, members of Punjab Assembly (MPAs), representatives from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), local politicians, and academics participated in it.
Bushra Ikhlaq, a member of a civil society organisation, analysed the Ordinance from the gender perspective. She said that 33 per cent of women’s representation must be ensured at all levels of committees and boards, adding that representation must progressively lead to 50 per cent.
The majority of the participants demanded that the posts of deputy mayors must-have women representation and special provisions should be incorporated in the law for the purpose.
Advocate Mobin-Ud-Din, the drafter of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021, enlightened the participants about the consultation process during the drafting of the document while sharing its salient features.
Stressing the need for broad-based consultative processes, CPDI Executive Director (ED) Mukhtar Ahmed Ali underlined the need of increasing the empowerment component so that the elected local government representatives feel the responsibility alongside accountability.
He also put forward a detailed analysis of the Ordinance, highlighting loopholes and recommendations for improvements.
“The ordinance says the government may entrust development authorities, traffic engineering, planning and water management companies to local governments through a notification, meaning that devolution of such bodies would still be government’s discretion, not binding on it,” Mukhtar said and suggested that Sections 23 and 24 of the Ordinance should clearly state the devolution process with a legit time frame.
Speaking on the occasion, Jamaat e Islami (JI) Pakistan Vice President Farid Ahmed Piracha said that instead of ordinances, public representatives should pass Acts as it is a democratic norm. He also stressed that local body representatives must be given honorariums like representatives at the federal and provincial levels.
He emphasised that the Ordinance must be available in the Urdu language for the understanding of the majority.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Sania Kamran underscored that workers must be given priority over others when allocating tickets for elections while suggesting the addition of technocrat seats in various tiers.
Nasir Abbas Baloch, a local politician from Jhang, recommended that agriculture must be a part of the local government system to improve the supply chains of various inputs.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Mehwish Sultana criticised that the assembly has been sidestepped while making the law.
Daily Pakistan Chief Editor and veteran journalist Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami stressed the need to consult every segment of society before making laws, especially for local governments.
There was a consensus that local government law must be permanent with constitutional protection and only subject to amendments while local bodies must be taken as governments exactly like federal and provincial governments, not bodies.
The participants highlighted the importance of the local government system and appealed to the authorities to install the tier of government at the earliest.
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