LAHORE - None of the provincial governments have so far evolved any legal framework to devolve the administrative, political and fiscal authority from provinces to districts as enshrined in the Article 140-A (1) of the Constitution. Landmark changes have been occurred with the adoption of 18th Amendment.

Provinces are bound to undertake decentralisation process and devolve powers at structural, administrative and fiscal levels. Holding LG elections is just one component of this constitutional responsibility. The real question is consensus-based legislation on local governance - pending by the provinces for devolution of powers to districts.

These views were expressed by the speakers at press conference, held by the representatives of Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI) on Local Governance here at the Lahore Press Club on Sunday.

“Each Province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments,” RDPI Coordinator Khaliq Shah said while quoting the Article 140-A (1).

He said the local government elections will fail to deliver the dividends of 18th Amendment in the absence of the much-needed legal framework, provinces are supposed to develop. “The Supreme Court has ordered the provinces to submit their schedules for Local Government Election by April 30, 2012 to realize Article 32 and 140-A of the Constitution. We welcome the SC step and remind the major political parties of historic commitment made under the “Charter of Democracy” to hold party-based local elections within six months,” he added.

RDPI Principal Coordinator Abdul Shakoor said LG elections were due since 2009. But the provincial governments had already wasted four years. He said it was matter of great concern that provinces still want to continue violation of the Constitution by not obeying the SC orders. For instance Sindh and Balochistan governments had told the SC that the law and order situation was not conducive to hold LG elections. The Punjab government, however, indicated that it might hold elections by August but refused to commit itself any further.

We also expect there should be no excuse this time on the part of provinces to further delay the LG polls, Shakoor added.

Executive Director Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) Ms Bushra said the real reason behind the chronic avoidance to hold LG elections was that major parties feel threatened that space and influence might be ceded to rivals if local government’ elections were held, and their own hold would be diluted.