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KARACHI: Leader of the opposition in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh on Sunday rejected the agreement between Sindh government and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and said that it failed to address all the genuine concerns and basic issues of local government system in the province.

Haleem Adil Sheikh while addressing a press conference at Sindh Assembly building along with MPA Arslan Taj Ghumman, PTI leaders Q. Muhammad Hakim, Haji Muzafar Shujrah, Ali Palh and others said that the dubious agreement on local government act was a deceptive tactic of both the parties to mislead the public.

Without addressing the real issues and constraints on autonomy of local governments they came up with old wine in new bottle, he remarked.

The Sindh Local Government Act 2013 is contradictory to articles 7, 32 and 140-A of constitution and violation of true spirit of devolution of authority to grass root level and administrative, financial and political autonomy of local governments, he said adding that PTI from the first day was opposing the black law and also challenged it in apex courts.

Haleem Adil Sheikh said that Jamaat-e-Islami was portraying agreement with government as a major achievement but the dubious agreement offered nothing new as the party that was protesting in front of Sindh Assembly for four weeks has been contented on provisions which were already part of the black LG law and they have completely neglected the genuine concerns.

Either JI was outwitted by the PPP Sindh government or both of them were trying to entrap the masses for their political objectives, he alleged and observed that government resort to violence and torture if some one protest outside assembly building but overlooked JI’s protest even buffaloes were tied there.

As many as 21 sections and different schedules of the SLGA 2013 were in contradiction to preamble of the act as well, he noted and added that the act entrusted real authority in the CM Sindh, minister of Local government and secretary of the LG department who could control and exercise absolute authority over entire structure of local governance in Sindh.

He said that sections 74 and 76 of SLGA 2013 renders a mayor or chairman of local government powerless and make the CM all powerful while provincial government could exercise control over LG bodies under sections 87 and 88 while some other sections empower province to steer financial matters of local councils.

A local government could not enter into any agreement without prior approval of provincial government while elected local councils could be suspended and suppressed as well under the prevailing LG law, he stated adding that province could interfere in issues of taxation and cess, recruitment and framing of rules as well as making development schemes then how those LG bodies could be called independent.

PPP brought a dual system in Sindh that would bring people of different areas into direct confrontation, Haleem asserted and said that change in status of adjoining rural areas of two major cities Karachi and Hyderabad would diminish opportunities of those under developed areas while process specified for election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor would end up in corruption, horse trading and floor crossing.

Haleem pointed out that a number of basic functions and responsibilities of local governments including health, education, price control and creating of employment opportunities were either taken back or curtailed while unclear definition of powers and functions of metropolitan or municipal corporations and their lower local councils would result into confusion, indiscipline and ineffectiveness of LG bodies.

All levels of local governments are dependent on provincial government in administrative and financial matters while leaving a little space for better performance and service delivery whereas provincial government holds decisive control in Provincial Finance Commission and Local Government Commission, Haleem Adil said.

The agreement also called Sindh government for emphatically taking up with federal government the issue of supply of potable water to Karachiites but the fact was that the important project K-IV was in doldrums for almost 12 years due to inefficiency and negligence of PPP Sindh government despite expenditure of over Rs. 12 billion and now when Imran Khan led PTI government took charge of the project and made significant progress on it JI was needlessly making hue and cry, he said.

PTI member Sindh Assembly Arslan Taj Ghumman speaking at the occasion said that a deal was made in darkness of night which allowed Chief Minister Sindh authoritative control over local governments of the province.

He said that Jamaat-e-Islami has compromised the rights of people of Sindh. PTI neither accepted the SLGA 2013 nor this agreement which was outcome of a fixed match and not consisted a single provision that could empower the LG system, he said adding that it was agreed that Mayor would become member of Sindh Building Control Authority and of Water Board but his powers and role was not mentioned.

Arslan Taj said that PTI got a resolution passed from Sindh Assembly regarding provincial commission but despite passage of two years it was still awaiting implementation.

PTI leader Q Muhammad Hakim briefed the media on different sections of SLGA 2013 which undermined administrative, financial and political authority of local government system in Sindh.

He said that preamble of the act provided for devolution of authority to grass root level but most of the act nullified even its preamble.

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