By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: Local government elections will be held soon after amendments to the Gilgit-Baltistan Local Government Act 2014 are approved. This was said by G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman while speaking to journalists in Gilgit on Monday.
“The legislation will be complete once amendments to [the legislation] are tabled and approved by assembly for polls,” he said.
A series of amendments were suggested by lawmakers during a seminar organised last week by Gilgit-Baltistan Policy Institute (GBPI) – a non-profit organisation set up in 2009 to explore policy options for the region. The organisation also drafted the LG Act 2014 after holding a series of consultations with stakeholders in G-B and Islamabad.
According to Rahman, G-B was “an ideal region to govern” because it is not overpopulated and has sufficient natural resources.
“But what is lacking is effective legislation,” he said. “We will hopefully achieve this soon.” The CM said people’s participation was central to the formulation of policies in a democratic regime.
“Local government institutions are primarily responsible for generating and managing local resources,” he said. “[They must also] ensure public participation and deliver services to the public.”
Rahman said no government can perform its duties in an effective manner without achieving sustainability.
“I think the local government must come up with certain ways to impose taxes,” he said. “[This will lead] to self-reliance in return for better service delivery.”
Rules of business
GBPI President Altaf Hussain told The Express Tribune efforts were under way to incorporate suggestions made to improve the 2014 legislation.
According to Hussain, GBPI, in collaboration with Citizens’ Voice Project – an initiative of the US Agency for International Development – is providing technical assistance to the local government and rural development department. This has been done to draft rules of business for LG institutions in Gilgit-Baltistan.
He added GBPI has conducted a series of consultation sessions with stakeholders in all the districts of G-B for this purpose. As a result, drafts of the rules of business for the G-B Finance Commission, the local government commission, local council board, district council, tehsil council and union council have been finalised.
“We presented the final draft of rules of business to larger audiences including the CM and his Cabinet in a closing seminar last week,” Hussain added.
On December 6, 2015, the G-B chief minister had vowed to hold LG elections in the region. He said the polls will be held in a similar manner to the ones held in Punjab on December 5, 2015 and serve as a key to development.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2016.