Gilgit-Baltistan governor signs Local Govt bill into law

Gilgit, October 30: Gover Syed Pir Karam Ali Shah today signed the Gilgit-Baltistan Local Government Bill into a law. The Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly had passed bill in August this year.

According to a UNDP report published earlier this year, the “Gilgit-Baltistan’s local government legislation promises to maximise benefits of self-governance to citizens at the lowest tier, introduces local participatory and democratic decision-making processes, encourages women’s participation in local governments and ensures the effective transfer of power from the regional to the local government. The Gilgit-Baltistan Government will now work with the Election Commission of Gilgit-Baltistan to map out the process of conducting local government elections.”

Key features of the Gilgit-Baltistan Local Government Act 2014 are:

  1. Urban and rural areas will be selected in which local governance structures will be formed comprising elected representative on the basis of adult franchise and indirectly elected members to reserved seats for women and religious minorities.
  2. Local government elections will be held on a party basis and under a single ward electoral system, which will contribute toward encouraging greater cohesion among different religious groups and ensuring sectarian harmony in the region.
  3. The Standing Committee System has been introduced at the local government level for effective participatory development policy planning, monitoring and implementation.
  4. A Local Government Commission will be set up to ensure a link between the Gilgit-Baltistan Government and Local Government structures.
  5. A Local Council Board will be formed to oversee the appointments and other service related matters of local government employees.
  6. Under the local government service structure, local government employees will be considered public servants and will receive honoraria, pensions, provident funds and other employment related benefits.
  7. Two city metropolitan corporations will be established in Gilgit and Skardu Districts, each headed by a Mayor and a Deputy Mayor.
  8. A Jirga Anjuman will be formed at the District Council level for out-of-court dispute settlement.
  9. In addition to reserved seats for women, the law specifically mentions that any local council will not be considered effective and functioning unless the required number of women’s seats has been filled.

At the district level, local councils will undertake performance audits of the line departments and also conduct stakeholder consultations on annual development plans to ensure citizen feedback in policy-making.

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