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 Pakistan to cut down federal ministries to size
 

 ISLAMABAD, November 6 (Internews): Under the next phase of devolution of power plan, the federal government in Pakistan will downsize its ministries and divisions whose counterparts existed in the country's
 four provinces.
 Federal Minister for Local Government Omar Asghar Khan said in remarks
 published Monday that minimum staff would be retained to run the federal
 ministries like education and health and the funds saved allocated to
 provinces for undertaking various development projects.
 Answering a question about the fate of the employees rendered surplus
 due to the exercise, he said they would be sent to the surplus pool and
 a decision about their future would be taken later. The strength of
 staff would be rationalised even at provincial and district level, he
 added.
 "In the past, all financial resources were concentrated in Islamabad but
 the current government would transfer them to provinces which would
 distribute them among the districts," Khan said.
 About the time frame set for the completion of transitory period for
 local councils, Khan said the councils had started functioning from
 August 17 last. The issues affecting their working were being solved by
 the four provinces according to their specific requirements, he added.

 Relying to another question, he said so far there was no need to give
 constitutional cover to the new district government system. "It is a
 provincial subject and the federal government will intervene only if it
 feels that a third tier of government is required in the country."
 Admitting that there were loopholes in the new system, he said the
 success of the system depended upon its working.
 He said the Local Government Commission would be made functional soon
 for checking deviation by the district governments from rules and
 regulations.
 The devolution committee of the chief executive was also analysing the
 feedback received from various quarters and was making amendments in the
 devolution plan accordingly, Khan said, adding a report would soon be
 prepared to set parameters for the new system.
Speaking at a workshop on National Consultation on Good Governance at a local hotel, the minister said the local bodies ordinance was not the
 final word and amendments might be introduced in it keeping in view
 future requirements.

 He urged the elected representatives to take initiative in solving
 problems of the people of their respective areas instead of waiting for
 provision of funds and completion of business rules.
 About checks and balances in the new system, he said 50 per cent members
 of public safety commissions would be nominated by the district nazim
 and the rest would be selected from various walks of life. District
 Ombudsmen were also being appointed shortly who would be men of
 integrity, he added.
 About the representation of women councillors in various committees,
 Omar Asghar Khan said it had been decided in principal that women would
 be given one-third representation on all forums and committees in the
 new system. If there was any violation of the principal, a voice must be
 raised against it, he added.
 He stressed that steps should be taken to make the elected
 representatives literate so that they could learn about their powers and
 responsibilities.
 About the ban on political activities in the country, he said work on
 holding general elections was continuing and the ban on political
 activities would be lifted at a suitable time.
 He said that a reasonable time would be given to the political parties
 for the preparation of elections. -Internews

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