Devolution: A Far Cry or an Imminent Reality; A Critical Evaluation of Punjab Local Government Act, 2019
Author: Khubaib Azam Awan

Local governments are one of the key components of government structure and provide an organized system for administration at the grass root level. The potential and capacity of local governments in Pakistan remained low to deliver meaningful governance. Literature on local government institutions in Pakistan mostly focused on their performance and its shortcomings for effective service delivery. No, effort has been made to assess the legislation that provides the power and functioning framework. The focus of this study is to assess the local government legislation to see whether it provides sufficient power and authority for their effective functioning. This study tries to find out whether the Punjab Local Government Acts, 2019, has the potential to devolve the authority in true sense or not. Here we show how important the devolution is for good governance and meaningful service delivery. If the legislation itself remains centralized and without power than the fingers are directed toward wrong direction. This research highlights the importance to take the first step right. This study gained insight by studying legislation, interviewing experts and local representatives about their expectations and assessment of the Punjab Local Government Act, 2019. This study shows that Punjab Local Government Act, 2019 is decentralized in terms of administrative structure but remains highly centralized in terms of administrative autonomy. Specific allocation of funds is a step forward, but its implementation is necessary for growth and development at the local level. Operational mechanism is very complicated which is likely to cause friction among different departments and tiers of government. There’s a need to overhaul the legislation pertinent to the authority and aspirations of general public. Findings of the study suggest that there is need for autonomous and empowered local government institutions for participation and service delivery. Stable local governments are the need of hour and should be vocalized in policy arena. Autonomous local government institutions can induce inclusiveness and cooperation especially in diversified Pakistan. Supervisor:- Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad

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Supervisor: Iftikhar Ahmad

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