LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN PAKISTAN: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Abdul Rahim Chandio
Department of Public Administration, University of Sindh, Jamshoro
ABSTRACT __The aim of the existing paper is to critically examine the goals, challenges and opportunities to flourish local government and make it more efficient and effective in Pakistan perspective. Local government gives an idea of the gross root governance that is designed at the lowest ebb of society or regional level. The concept of local government is as old as the governments itself. Whenever, historical perspective of local government reaches to its maturity through passing different phases. Local government is a small government under the jurisdiction of provincial and federal government which tries to establish proximity of local inhabitants with the government in order to benefit from the various incentives of government concerning their particular localities. The government at gross rot level plays a vital role to ensure the useful provision of public goods to the wide rural population and Policy tools can be implemented easily by local governments in a particular region. Moreover, strengthening local government is not only in favor of particular region but it can enhance the political, social and economic prosperity at the regional level. The strong bureaucratic control emerged since the inception of Pakistan in 1947 she was not at all contributing to public participation in political affairs, which ultimately led regression of the local self-government, impeding the administrative and financial provision of local bodies. The existing study establishes a theoretical notion of the significance, challenges, and recommendations to local government in Pakistan. The designing of local government is entrusted with the assignment of national goal and reservation of the interest of the particular geography. It ensures the provision of the public welfare at grass root level which encompasses district, tehsil, town, municipal union, ward, and village.
Key Words: Local Government, significant, challenges, opportunities.
The existing study is to critically examine the goals, challenges and step forwards to flourish the local government and make it more efficient and effective in Pakistan perspective. Local government implies the gross root governance that is designed at the lowest level or regional level. Local government can be categorized into two types like local government and local self-government in which local government implies an administration of local areas run by appointed bureaucracy and local self-government can be defined as an administration of local areas run by its elective representatives. The notion of local government is an old concept as the government itself. Whenever, the historical perspective of local government reaches to its maturity through passing different phases which traced back the British rule in the subcontinent and its journey in Pakistan passes into local government of diverse regimes like local self-government of 1947 – 1958 period, Ayub’s era, Zulfiqar Bhutto’s regime, Zia regime, Musharaf regime and Current Local Government System introduced in 2013. Local government is a small government under the jurisdiction of provincial and federal government which tries to establish proximity of local inhabitants with the government in order to benefit from the various incentives of government concerning their particular localities. The government at gross rot level plays a vital role to ensure the useful provision of public goods to the wide rural population and Policy tools can be implemented easily by local governments in a particular region. Moreover, strengthening local government is not only in favor of particular region but it can enhance the political, social and economic prosperity at the grass root level. The strong bureaucratic control emerged since the inception of Pakistan in 1947 which was not at all contributing to motivate participation of people in political affairs that ultimately led regression of the local self-government, impeding the financial and administrative provision of local bodies. The existing study establishes a theoretical notion of the significance, challenges, and measure to local government in Pakistan. The designing of local government is entrusted with the assignment of national goal and reservation of the interest of the particular geography. It ensures the provision of the public welfare at grass root level which encompasses prosperity at district, tehsil, town, municipal union, ward and village with an appropriate use of machinery in the best interest of people.
Descriptive Analysis of Local Government
The local government is a government of the particular region and locality which meets with affairs of communities of that particular area or small geographical area. It creates a potential to ensure the quality of life of a community and meets the issues of inhabitants of a particular region. Local government is a public organization or political region under the jurisdiction of center that allows making decisions and administering a restricted range of public policies concerning a small territory (Awan and Uzma, 2014). Local government is an inevitable unit of a government at a grass root level in federal and provinces. Moreover, it pays attention to ensure the transition of power to local representative and areas by concerning the inhabitants in the prerequisite of indispensable needs in their relevant communities (Alao, Osakede and Owolabi, 2015).
There are numerous scholars they denote local government as a government of a region which progress and develop through formulating and implementing the projects. Likely, Adeyemi (2013) argued that local government brings reforms at the gross root level of society at a particular region which is designed by a law to execute the specific powers at a defined region. furthermore, it initiates and administers the services and implements the projects of the federal and state government in their respective regions. Local government is a government of popularly elected bodies assigned with executive and administrative responsibilities in affairs relating to the residents of a particular district or region (Adedire, 2014).
Local government can assist in infrastructure development, public health and enhancing literacy initiatives. The significance of local government can mobilize the initiatives at grass root level of the society. Likely, the research argues that the provisions of the basic amenities and social infrastructure of people at the lowest ebb of society in an efficient and effective manner are the key factors to meet the target of a delivery of service at grass root level (Bolatito and Ibrahim, 2014). Local government denotes the people who have the authority to make decisions or passé laws in a small geographic area near to them. The concept of local government (LG) is the decentralization of power and authority from regional or central government to the local level of the grass root society (Jones, 2002). The chief goal of local Government is to distribute political authority to a common man. It carries out functions to envisage all its legal power that comes from the regional or national government and acquire the discretionary on the decisions making and having taxing powers at some extent normally. Thus local government divides administration into small administrative units in order to mobilize authority at grass root level as following figure highlights (Achimugu, Stephen and Agboni, 2013).
Fig: 1. Local Government set up in Pakistan
The chief purpose of the administrative decentralization in the local government is to empower people at the simplest ebb of society with speedy access to justice and state machinery (Anjum, 2001). Local government mobilizes the efforts at the local level and it faces a number of challenges in developing countries such as Pakistan to represent devolution as an apparatus for consolidation of the authority of a nondemocratic national government (Boris, 2015). The major constraints in the way of local government in Pakistan is due insufficient fund, corruption and lack of autonomy, family politics, political monopolization of dynastical politics, poor decentralization and its implementation, and administrative flaws of Government are hunting factor to provide an effective delivery of services and valuable productivity in the society (Salman, 2009).
Restraints in the way of the transferring funds to local governments create the problems in this regard (Anjum, 2001). The triumph of a local government around the world relies on the effective delivery of service, accountability, transparency and small democracy. Additionally, the existing study presents the theoretical perspectives regarding the challenges and measures of local government. Governance gives a crucial role at the local level which ensures an effective provision of public goods to the rest of the rural population. The government at gross rot level plays a vital role to guarantee the public welfare to the wide vast population through the implementation of public policy (Cochrane, 1983).
Goals of local government
Local government is the government at a regional and small scale of society which works under the central or provincial government or independently. there is a number of goals of local government in which it can dispense an effective delivery of services to people and organize the political socialization of local representative that can assist to establish a sound democratic process. It is not the only aim of local government to transfer the lower tiers to higher tiers of Government but it also focuses the approach Meritocracy, Performance appraisal system and produces the health measures for the people of the particular region (Deller, 1992). Local government empowers people at the grass root level and transfers power from the elite to masses. It is an important service of a Local government to works at a grassroots level which initiates political socialization and creates small democracy (Boris, 2015). Moreover, it is the nature and great priority of local government to deliver the services at the grassroots level. Additionally, Alao, Ajike, and Ibrahim (2016) argued that Local government possesses a significant influence on the public good and ensures the provision of an indispensable role at the grass root level of the society.
Major Goals of Local Government in Pakistan
- Local government ensures an effective delivery of services. An effective and efficient delivery of service can promote a sound policy, accountability and a successful decentralization at gross root level. In developing nations the quality of service delivery is a challenging task in order to secure satisfactory of people at the lowest ebb of society. Effective delivery is at the best of the local government function that makes this level of government closest to the people (Cheema, Khwaja, and Qadir, 2006).
- The chief goal of Local government is to empower the people at the grass root level and provides them an affordable and quick justice. It encourages decentralization and people’s participation and improves financial position (PRP, 2001–04). It is the first priority of local government to speed up an effective delivery of service (Salman, 2009).
- Local government is an administrating system for small political units like villages, town, and The major objectives of the local government can be devolution of the administrative authority (such as Union, Tehsil, Town, and District). Resultantly it ensures the decisions and matters transparently, improves the administration by decentralizing the authority at the grass root level and bring people closer to common people. The power of local government is usually delegated by the central government. There is a short history of decentralization in the locally elected governments which has recently popularized in order to flourish public incentives for service delivery to common poor class of people (Zafarullah and Huque, 1998).
- Local government ensures the fundamental rights to people through local elected representatives and administers. It ensures the provision of facilitation of sanitation, health, transport, education. Local government mobilizes the public welfare measures without any delay, public participation in the local affairs of the particular region, solving the people’s problems at local level, provision of the speedy justice, accountability and an effective delivery of service. Moreover, it is the administration of the civic affairs of city, town, or country at large and designs an effective hierarchical flow of authority in order to integrate an ordinary people to the government (Salman, 2009).
- Public participation is undeniable for an accountable government. Thus, the National government, stimulate credible altitude of accountability and citizen confidence in respect to governance to progress service delivery (Bardhan, 2002). Local government is an important sphere of government to facilitate sustained accountability and confidence in governance by engaging with the citizenry in a participatory manner to affect improved service delivery. Decentralization benefits in the way of allocation of public resource and its best use in the welfare of people. However, despite a variety of legislative prescriptions pertaining to participation, a degree of apathy remains amongst communities (Anjum and Ahmad, 2001).
- The government at gross rot level plays a vital role to ensure the effective provision of public goods to the wide rural population and Policy tools can be implemented easily by local governments. Moreover, strengthening local government is not only in favor of a particular region but it can enhance the political, social and economic prosperity at grass root level (Anjum and Ahmad, 2001).
Local Government carries people closer to the government by providing facilitation of an effective and efficient service delivery and collective political contribution of locals in the supervision of their affairs (Alao, Ajike, and Ibrahim, 2016). Local government can deliver the number of services at grass root level which provides the sustainable health service, filling vacancies and enhancing competent staff, introducing the new strategies and innovations and regularizing the Internal Auditing Mechanism. Additionally, it assists to mobilize goods and services to people at the local level. The delivery of public goods and services by local government at the grass root is designed at moving the standard of living of the people to the next level (Angahar, 2013). Local government establishes as the third tier of governance and comprises of a democratically elected representative whose major function is to provide necessary services to people at the grassroots (Adeyemi, 2013). According to Marlow (1988) that local governments globally endeavor to meet the demands of peoples for goods and services in a cost-effective manner mainly at the grass root government.
Challenges of local government in Pakistan
Many federal and state government functions are being transferred to local governments. There is a number of crises faced by local government in Pakistan society in which usual delays to mobilize local government elections timely. In this regard, the provincial government should it performs service in order to delay in the election of local government’s functional mechanism. The matter of local people should be given a serious attention by the Provincial Governments due to delay in holding the local government elections and building them operational, how many significant performances or provisions have been turned into ineffectiveness (Awan and Uzma, 2014). There are certain challenges concerning to local government of Pakistan can be enumerated as bellow.
- Undemocratic political parties and Leadership crisis design dilemmas to hamper in the way of triumph for Local Government. The poverty of leadership at the local government level remains one of the most demoralizing challenges manipulating the sustainability of development of the grassroots’ in developing countries (Alao, Ajike, and Ibrahim, 2016). Henceforth, Local leaders become incapable due to Lack of training, resources, and experience (Oxhorn, 2004). In the areas of education, health, and national governments, poverty alleviation has commenced allowing hitherto untested local governments to manage the policy and programs (Cohen, 2006). Moreover, lower Sindh is under the shadow of low literacy rate as compared to the urban region of the province and other regions of the Pakistan that boast up the traditional politics of feudal class in the region (Awan and Uzma, 2014).
- Unjustified political interference and lack of autonomy create detention in the way of local government to meet its common goal. Poor governance spoils the essential ingredients the good governance which ultimately impacts the local government Local government administrations have come under serious criticism over years for poor service delivery and bad governance (Anjum and Ahmad, 2001).
- Corruption and mismanagement of resources violate the vitality of local government. Police corruption is the key agents for the permanency of the political eternity of local politicians such as wadaras (Local Feudal) and tribal chiefs in the triumph of their local government (Awan and Uzma, 2014). It is stated in a study that Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners reserved an authority of a check on the power exercised by rural elites or landlords, such as zamindars (Local landlords) in Punjab, waderas (Local Feudal) in Sindh, sardars and maliks (Local Chiefs) in NWFP and Baluchistan (Anjum and Ahmad, 2001).
- Ethnic and feudalistic and traditional political monopolization at the local level also create the challenges in the path of local government to be succeeded (Marlow, 1988). The enumerates recognizes limited and well-defined blocs of voting in Pakistan, occupied by a leading dominant person who may be a landlord, spiritual leader, depend on Baradari and zaat (Relative and Caste system). Traditionally feudal landlords in Pakistan rural area possesses wield extreme monopolized political power in national and provincial government because of their influence and strong control over rural area voters, where majority population resides (Awan and Uzma, 2014). The reason behind the political permanency feudalistic class, spiritualist families in rural areas of the country is due to hoarding of fields, traditional farming, and illiteracy, lack of any political motivator section of the society, landlessness and spiritual orthodoxy. With prevailing influential rural elites being elected politicians, there is diminutive encouragement for them to support for an improved government over the people they rule (Bird and Vaillancourt, 2008). It is stated into a study that one of the problematic jeopardies to decentralization is confined system by local political elites. It is the general state of affairs in local governments in Pakistan where politically active families control the provincial and political life local government. Another fascinating feature of political life in Pakistan is the state affairs of voting of the rural voters (Salman, 2009).
- Disempowerment of local government defeats the common goal to achieve local representation. According to Alao, Osakede, and Owolabi (2015), that disempowerment of the Local Government System, in fact, makes sad and forceful reminders.
- Illiterate political staff and inexperienced political recruitment are serious hurdles in the way of local government success. Additionally, the majority of the developing countries are facing similar problems of poverty, illiteracy, corruption, unemployment, social exclusion, gender inequality and lack of resources (Marlow, 1988). Rural areas in Pakistan face very lower literacy rate as compared to urban areas of the country which emerges as a horrifying dilemma in the lowers Sindh and Baluchistan that create serious and rampant conditions for people to exploit their vote in an appropriate manner and give birth to an enlightened leadership (Salman, 2009).
Daunting political and administrative flaws are hunting the local government assignments. Problems of Pakistan are not because of technical issues of structures, but rather on the misuse of political power to achieve particular interests (Rizvi, 1973). Strong political dedication is vital at the national and local level that is a significant initiative as well as indispensable provision required all over the process. The civil servants served as a buffer and would mediate in disputes of local to defend or promote rights of less authoritative in rural Pakistan (Zafarullah and Huque, 1998). Moreover, the political and nonpolitical contradictory approach also goes against the essence of local government to give its services in an appropriate manner. The complicated system creates a number of difficulties to meet the common goal of the local government. The intra local governments in Pakistan relations are still unclear between the tehsil, union, and district levels, and no mechanism exists to deal with conflicts of law. Owing to its complexity it is uneasy to find out clear lines of accountability and responsibility contained by the local government system (Bardhan and Mookherjee, 2006).
In Pakistan failure of good governance always reveals due to policies flaws, which impact the poor local government as well. Lack of funds and financial constraints are mitigating factors of a local government. In this regard, most local governments in Pakistan suffer problematic resource constraints, Limited local government discretion over taxes and spending, Local Government Finance. Finance is the backbone for a project to succeed. The great reason for the failure of the local government and devolution in Pakistan is due to financial misuse and insufficient budget as well (Cheema, Khwaja, and Qadir, 2006). Thus according to Cochrane (1983) that the greatest threats to the reform of the devolution and local government are due to a failure to give sufficient resources to meet the needs and aspirations of the local inhabitants. Revenue plays a key role in the success of any government policy. Thus financial support is the soul of the local government that stimulates all public policies to be achieved. The responsibilities of local government grow on the basis to share funds available in order to ensure these responsibilities are often insufficient, in particular in developing countries (Cheema, Khwaja, and Qadir, 2006).
Recommendations to improve local government
Strengthening local government is not only in the favor of particular region but it can enhance the political, social and economic prosperity at grass root level in Pakistan. Curbing corruption, enhancing the financial and Political autonomy a local government is important for a local government to improve the social services delivery at the grass root level. The Financial crisis is the serious challenges to promote the opportunity of prosperity to the local populace. According to Bird and Vaillancourt (2008) that the local governments should enhance their own sources of revenues that can reduce the dependence on central transfers and the local proportion of budget financing should improve after decentralization. With respect to Pakistan, accountability mechanism, land reforms, valuable public participation, generation of local resource capacity and services of political parties at grass root level are indispensable provisions for the triumph of the local government system and to fortify the democratic governance (Salman, 2009).
Decentralization creates a bridge between local government and center in the way to bypass the authorities, thus restoration of decentralizing mechanism can assist to promote sound local governing in order to ensure people possibly. In this perspective according to Yazdani (2003) “decentralization that ensures that appropriate divisions of functions exist between the State and Local Governments and those local authorities thereby plays a significant role in the development process”. The concept of Local Government may be seen as “a segment of a constituent state or region of a nation-state”, established by law to provide public services and regulate public affairs within the area of its jurisdiction (Zaidi, 2005).
The Local Government Plan was based on five fundamentals: devolution of political power, decentralization of administrative authority, deconcentration of the functions of management, diffusion of the power-authority nexus, and sharing the resources at the district level. Adaptation of globalization Electronic innovativeness, world travel, international markets, modern science and technology, and accelerated information exchange are pushing communities and their leaders to respond to changing environments (Chandio, et al., 2018). The progressiveness of Local governance mechanism can be sorted out into certain major categories: Administrative processes, Public decision making, Relationships, Public services, Economic development. Community leaders must protect the common good and be fair across citizens, groups, businesses, and industries Iowa State University Extension (Cheema, Khwaja and Qadir, 2006).
Local government budget autonomy should increase. Assurance of good governance can ensure the triumph of the local government in Pakistan. Preservation of good governance leads to succeed the common goal of the local government. In this way good governance encompasses the rule of law, human rights, an honest and efficient government, culture of accountability, political freedom, a strong legal system and efficient administration, effective management, promotion of cohesion, socio-economic development, cheap and quick justice, efficient and effective delivery of service and provision of social security. Promotion of e-government in the local government can transfer the innovative technology at a local area that can accelerate the quality of life (Chandio,2019; Zafarullah and Huque, 1998). Qualified and specialist staff requires high literacy rate at a local area that not only boosts up the social and economic prosperity of the people but it can also mobilize the political enlightenment and knowledgeable leadership. Thus fixed education policy must be organized in which graduate must be fixed for local government representation and free education must be materialized up to graduation. Service delivery is the soul of local government which provides the services to people at the grass root level of the society. Local Government brings government and people closer by facilitating effective and efficient service delivery that motivates political participation of people and the contribution of locals in the managing of their affairs (Cheema, Khwaja, and Qadir, 2006).
Constitutional reforms ensure autonomy local government and timely holding elections can also succeed the local government in their way to benefit the local inhabitants. The Courts constantly memorized the concerned Governments that it was their Constitutional responsibility to prepare arrangements for holding local government elections except for the loss of any time, devolve administrative, financial and political responsibilities to the elective representative of the people. Curtailing corrupt practice in local government administration ensures to mobilize a sound local government. Henceforth, administrative reforms must be encouraged in which administrative ethics should be incorporated among administrative staff. Dichotomy of the politics and administration in the local government must adhere formal, organized and proper division of power/authority where administrative side such as Deputy Commissioner District Coordination Officer (DCO) and Executive District Officers (EDO) must be empowered and made independent from the political elite class which can help to implement the public policies and essential ingredient of good governance (Zaidi, 2005).
On the other hand, DMG officers possess the positions to ensure the coordination of policies at all levels of the government. Finance is the backbone for any government to implement its policies successfully. Thus, adequate financial allocation and budgeting to the local governments can encourage local development and stability of social institutions at the grass root level. Likely, the local government must reserve a separate independent fund in order to meet the emergencies (such as tribal conflict, fire Bridger, draught, an emergency fund for the downtrodden class of people). Moreover increasing capacity and stability of public institutions (such as revenue, police, emergency, wapda and public health etc) and an effective utilization of human resources large skilled labor and educated class etc) can make human capital of large segment of society useful in the way of development and prosperity of Pakistan. Implementation of the essential ingredients of good governance experience staff, educated leadership can make a human resource to be useful (Bardhan and Mookherjee, 2006).
This paper will contribute and advance knowledge concern on the significant, issues and steps forward to improve the local government in Pakistan’s perspective. The aim of this paper is to critically examine the challenges and steps forward to furnish local government in order to make it efficient and effective Service delivery and the welfare of people. Local government is political subdivision constituted by law and possesses substantial control of local affairs. Laws and mechanism of governance are made by powerful people and not weak one thus it is a serious challenge for a governance to meet the nature and psychology of people especially when a state is being ruled by a family or dynastical political players which cannot overcome their political errors surpassing political vested interest and power politics. There should be capacity building for local councils to take advantage of modern tools of local governance that are being developed world wide. This must combine the political and administrative cadre of the councils. Building institutional and system capacity that produces the human capital that is committed to the principles of good governance briefly summarized as transparency, accountability, honesty, foresightedness, equity, justice, prudent management of public funds, strong leadership inspired by vision and direction that is beneficial to the masses.
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