LAHORE - The district coordination officer (DCO) would be designated for the distribution of assets and liabilities of city district governments, districts, tehsils/towns municipal administrations while assistant commissioners in case of union administrations to succeed local governments.

It was proposed at 8th meeting of the Provincial transition team held under the Local Government Secretary the other day while pondering upon the parameters for the distribution of assets and liabilities and appointment of officers as required under the PLGA 2013.

The law department pointed out that as per the existing provision under the PLGA 2013, movable and immovable assets of the district governments shall be succeeded by the respective local governments. But, the distribution of assets of the DCO office will be problematic as the law was silent on the issue, said the law department representative.

It was also decided to revisit the distribution of assets and liabilities of government departments going to be recentralised to the provincial governments. All the exercise of the distribution of assets will be carried out in consultation with the law department, said the minutes of the meeting.

The law department director legislation further pointed out that the tier of the TMA would not be available after repeal of the PLGO 2001 while Metropolitan or Municipal corporations at five big cities i.e. Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan and Faisalabad would ensure participation of the UCs for effective service delivery at grass root level.

The organogram of the UCs in five big cities would be decided considering this scale. The local government department would revisit all the proposed organogram of the UCs keeping in light of the observations furnished by the law department.

It was also apprised that only six departments including Law, Human Rights, MPDD, Mines and Minerals, Public Prosecutions and Zakat have intimated that no amendments would be required in the law administered by them while a lot of to be done by the remaining departments.

The administrative secretaries are also reminded to expedite the exercise to identify the consequential amendments to be required in the respective laws in wake of repeal of PLGO 2001.

It is to be recalled that under the 2001 system, district governments were given responsibilities in agriculture, health, education, community development, information technology, finance and planning, together with revenue previously held by the provinces, and became financially competent through transferred funds and local taxes. Town/taluka governments (the middle tier) were assigned most of the functions of the former municipal authorities as the main providers of essential services (e.g water, sanitation, roads and waste disposal).

The union councils (lowest/third tier) were envisaged as providing monitoring and oversight of service delivery, as well as undertaking small developmental projects.

Moreover under the 2001 ordinance, the District Coordination Officer (DCO) of the district government, equivalent to a chief executive officer, and district police officer were placed under the elected district Nazim.

The planning system was de-centralised and development funds were distributed to districts and identification, appraisal, and approval of development projects had become subject of local priorities.

But after the founder of the system stepped down, in 2009 the de-centralization agenda faltered. After the general elections of 2008, the civilian government came into power and which failed to maintain local government institutions.

Later, on the orders of the apex court, the Punjab government announced elections for the local bodies and introduced a new system by amending the law and PLGA 2013 was passed.

The new system is said to be the amalgam of 1979 and 2001 systems. Many of the powers earlier devolved from the province were again retrieved thus weakening the devolution plan of 2001. Health and education departments under the newly established district authorities would be entirely local subjects.