islamabad-The local government institutions in the federal capital have yet not come out of the administrative issues despite the lapse of around two years.

Since its birth two years back in 2015, Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) has had been facing multiple issues ranging from lack of funds, rules of business, service structure of employees of the devolved directorates to lack of infrastructure and controversy over UC’s jurisdiction viz-a-viz tax collection. The local government representatives who won elections in November 2015 are still clueless about the role and function of their offices as lack of political will on part of the federal government remains a major reason for the ‘dysfunctional’ LG institutions.

The LG elections were held in November 2015 but the government has not given the union councils of the MCI anything yet as, according to the Opposition Leader in MCI, Ali Awan, the government doesn’t want to empower the local government. Talking to The Nation, Awan said: “Parachutist Mayor is to be blamed for pathetic condition of the MCI.

The Mayor who is not a directly elected public representative has left the local governments in limbo and he himself is enjoying Chairman CDA’s slot. Why should he be bothered about the Corporation’s affairs,” he posed a question as he lamented the government’s indifferent attitude towards the LG system.

The LG elections were held in Islamabad after the Supreme Court ordered for it as the federal government seemed totally disinterested in it. Ali Awan, UC-40 Chairman from PTI said that the government has left the local government system to die a slow death.

Counting the problems MCI has been facing since its inception, Awan said lack of funds is affecting the Corporation the most.

He said in the absence of notified rules of business, everything relating to proceedings and functions of the MCI are illegal. “The employees of the devolved directorates who don’t want to join MCI have taken a stay order in their favour and the Mayor is least interested in vacating the same from the court. The MCI as an institution is not pursuing the case properly,” he alleged.

The rules of business and budget rules have not yet been notified by the ministry of interior. It is to mention here that MCI’s budget rules are pre-requisite for getting development funds and the rules of establishment which are necessary for getting non-development funds. On the other hand, the federal government did not allocate any funds for the MCI in its budget for the fiscal year 2017-18. The non-allocation of funds mean there will be no serious development projects in the federal capital, a city of over three million people. MCI is now dependent on cash-strapped CDA, which is facing financial challenges of its own.

Of Islamabad’s 50 union councils, 18 fall in urban areas and 32 in rural areas. CDA carried out some development projects in the urban areas but there has been no development activity in the rural areas which are facing several problems including shortage of water, no system for garbage collection and bad roads and streets.

All the hurdles are not bureaucratic but political as well. How can Union Councils survive without having the right to collect taxes but there has been a controversy over the same. Some union councils had started collecting taxes which MCI termed illegal. MCI while issuing warning letters to various union councils asked the UC chairmen to refrain from indulging in ‘illegal activities’ like collection of different taxes. 

Chief Metropolitan Officer Asad Mehboob Kiani in the letter addressed to

chairmen of Union Council Saidpur, Sohan. Lohi Bher and Malpur had noticed that the UCs themselves have started collecting different municipal taxes which is against the Islamabad Local Government Act, 2015.

The MCI top official reminded that the powers to collect taxes by the UCs was withdrawn through fourth schedule given in the Islamabad Local Government Act, 2015.

The members of MCI are also lamenting over non-fixation of their salaries despite lapse of several months.

So much so, Islamabad Capital Territory administration and the MCI are also at loggerheads over three devolved ICT departments that had refused to report to the MCI. The ICT’s local government, civil defence and public health departments were devolved to the MCI along with their staff but, according to the MCI, the departments have yet to report to the Corporation.

When contacted, a CDA spokesman said that the Mayor was striving hard to resolve the issues faced by the residents of the capital.

He was of the view that being a new experiment, the LG system in Islamabad will take time to overcome the issues.