ISLAMABAD: Institutional and legal reforms are mandatory and much needed to improve the socio-economic and security environments in the country and to get it out of the present morass, stated Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Federal Minister for Local Government & Rural Development.
The Minister was presiding over a high level meeting of the provincial ministers and secretaries of Local Government & Rural Development held in Islamabad on Tuesday 8th of July 2008 to solicit and coordinate provincial views and finalize way forward on priority issues in light of the Prime Minister’s directives for formulating policy on katchi abadis & urban slums improvement, capacity development for local governance, and other initiatives of the Ministry of LG&RD.
Mr. Dost Muhammad Khosa, Minister for Local Government & Rural Development, Government of Punjab, Mr. Bashir Ahmad Bilour, Minister for LG&RD, Government of NWFP, Mr. Abdul Khaliq Bashar Dost, Minister LG&RD, Government of Balochistan besides Federal Secretary LG&RD, Additional Secretary Cabinet division, secretaries of the LG&RD department from all four provinces and Director of the Capital Development authority attended.
The meeting reviewed the policy for Katchi Abadi regularization, rehabilitation and development proposed by the Federal Ministry under the “100 Days Action Plan” announced by the Prime Mini8ster in his inception statement on the floor of the National Assembly on March 29, 2008.
The meeting agreed that the issue of transfer of title and upgrading of all the Katchi Abadi that stand confirmed and declared in light of the policy, 1985, along with adjacent slum areas may be implemented under a holistic plan . It supported the adoption of a multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral approach towards the development of the Katchi Abadi and that any intervention should be mainstreamed into the relevant urban plan for incremental implementation.
The provincial representatives however, observed that the provinces need to review the policy proposals in light of their own local conditions and requirements and comment on the proposed strategies and modalities accordingly. They also urged that the proposed need assessment survey and land status of the confirmed and declared Katchi Abadis should be carried out urgently and in close collaboration wit the provinces with a view to develop an accurate data base and ground information position along with strengthening of the legal framework to stop further growth of Katchi Abadis and urban slums.
The meeting agreed that the provinces and the CDA would review the draft policy proposals in detail and submit their considered views/recommendations thereon to the Federal Ministry at an early date for consolidation and further processing in light of the Prime Minister’s announcement.
The meeting also deliberated on the devolved system of local government functioning under the Local Government Ordinance 2001. The participants noted that political changes in the country have given rise to the necessity to address local demands and needs to bring about economic and political systems closer to local communities and make them more responsive, efficient and transparent. Frail local government system need to be strengthened to reflect and address the true aspirations and demands of the citizen’s and bring the country at par with the developed nations.
Without putting in place standard parameters and policy framework developed through consensus keeping in view the local needs, effective coordination mechanism, and a clear action plan and political support the challenges cannot be addressed in a timely manner.
The provinces urged on an urgent introspective review of the system and necessary changes to bring about improvements in the quality of governance and delivery of public sector services. It was decided that the committee chaired by the Federal Minister of Local Government and rural Development and comprising of the provincial ministers and secretaries of Local government & Rural Development, NRB and other participants would reconvene at an early date to look into this issue.
Meanwhile, the provincial departments of local government and rural development would coordinate amongst themselves to firm up their views and recommendations for discussion in the above mentioned meeting. The meeting appreciated the new initiatives proposed by the MLG7ERD to improve quality of living conditions and bring about prosperity in the rural areas of the country such as rural roads construction, rural reconstruction and enterprise development and urban renewal & small town development proposals.
The proposal for establishment of National Research & Development center and School of Local Governance & Rural Development at the National Center of Rural development Islamabad in network with provincial local government training institutions was also welcomed. The meeting recommended the need for review of the existing cooperatives system and structure in the country in light of the best practices in the neighboring countries and elsewhere in the region for possible replication.-SANA