The PTI wants to bring in some amendments in the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.
The PTI is the main opposition party in the Sindh Assembly and has prepared a bill for urban areas ahead of the upcoming local bodies’ election.
Opposition Leader in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi told SAMAA Digital that the party has prepared the Sindh Local Government Bill, particularly for urban areas.
The party wants powers transferred to the third tier of the government i.e. the KMC.
The MQM-P— the PTI’s coalition partner–is also in favour of transferring the powers to the third tier.
Here is a look into what the bill proposes.
The Karachi metropolitan area
The bill proposes to divide greater Karachi into 100 councils with 12,000 people per ward. These councils will be permanent for 20 years and then reviewed.
They will initially be divided based on the permanent or temporary addresses on people’s CNICs.
Ward residents will be able to avail certain tax concessions in that area. This could be on property tax, shop tax or even street parking tax.
There would be between 12,000 and 15,000 people per ward. Whenever the number is increased, a new ward will be created. For each ward, there will be elected members to govern the area.
Each ward will have two elected representatives–one man and one woman. The PTI proposes a joint electorate to elect these representatives.
The PTI hopes to increase women empowerment through this, as women will no longer be elected on reserved seats. The ward representatives will then become members of the union council committee.
The local council will have one general councilor, one technocrat councilor and one labor councilor, each of whom will be elected.
Whoever secures the highest number of votes will be declared chairperson and will represent the union in the Karachi Council.
The council will also have these other members:
Women to be elected by female voters
Youth to be elected by the voters under 30
Minorities if applicable, elected by minorities. The minority seat will only be in those councils where there is a minority population that makes up at least 5% of the total population.
Each local council will therefore have a minimum of five female members, four male members, one youth representative and one minority member.
The rest of the seats are open. Therefore each union council will have 14 members–four men, four women, three reserved and three general seats.
Mayor: leader of the house. The bill proposes that the mayor be elected directly by the public.
Mayor’s Cabinet: 15 members–eight elected and seven technocrats (one chief finance officer and one municipal commissioner)
Metropolitan Council: Representatives of the local area councils
Head of the municipal corporation or metropolitan corporation: They will be elected directly by the principal of one person, one vote. This will be a party election
Voting in LG elections compulsory for registered voters
It has been proposed that voting in local government elections be made compulsory for all registered voters. Those who do not vote will have to face higher taxes. The PTI hopes to ensure the participation of women and also inculcate a habit of voting in the public.
Naqvi believes the opposition parties will favour the bill. He said the PTI Sindh chapter will take its coalition partners into confidence before presenting the bill in the Sindh Assembly.
“We believe in strengthening the local bodies’ system and I think the PTI’s coalition partners are on the same page,” he said. They haven’t spoken to any of their partners yet, but Naqvi says the MQM has no choice but to support the bill.
But MQM-Pakistan’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hasan says otherwise. He said he hasn’t read the bill yet because the PTI hasn’t shared it, but from what he has heard, it isn’t likely that the MQM will support it.
“With our current relationship with the PTI, it would be difficult for MQM-P to create any understanding over this sensitive legislation,” Hasan said.
“We are not in favour of the public directly electing the Karachi mayor. The current system in which the mayor is chosen by elected representatives is suitable,” he said, adding that the MQM wouldn’t support a bill that proposed directly electing the mayor or several other features mentioned in the PTI’s bill.