FASIHUDDIN SIDDIQUI takes
pride being the Nazim of the most literate town in the whole country —
the North Nazimabad Town with an unmatched literacy rate of 78 per cent.
Born, raised and educated in the Town, which he heads today at the grass
roots level under the new set-up of City Government introduced by
President Pervez Musharraf, he did Inter Science from City College,
Nazimabad and completed Auto Diesel diploma from Government College of
Technology. During his student-years he played hockey and cricket
representing his institutions in inter-school and inter-college matches.
He worked for Oil and Gas Development Corporation and later joined
Pakistan State Oil with which he remained associated with it as
Technical Manager till he opted for the golden-handshake scheme
introduced by the public sector organisation under the retrenchment
programme. He contested the Local Bodies elections and win it to head
North Nazimabad Town, one of the 18 Towns of Karachi, which has a
population of over 500,000 and comprise 10 Union Councils.
What you think the benefits of Local Bodies system are?
has the people easy access to have their problems solved, particularly
the civic ones, because it's origin is at the grass roots level. It has
helped the people to overcome problems such as street lighting, water
& sewerage, road repairs and maintenance, sanitation, parks, etc.,
addressed through direct involvement and participation. The system has
helped build-up public confidence because the execution of public works
and beautification of towns are executed openly.
Is there a conflict between the provincial government and Local Bodies?
Yes, there is, particularly here in Karachi where the representatives of
the Town administrations and the member of the provincial parliament,
both elected, belong to two different political parties but are,
nevertheless, answerable to the public. Prior to the general elections
in October 2002 the Karachi District Local Government, of which the 18
Towns of the city is a part, were allowed to work fully. There has been
a conflict between the two now because of there are many matters that
overlap. The National Reconstruction Bureau, the creator of the local
bodies system, should play it role to remove the ambiguities to help the
elected MPAs and elected local bodies to work alongside and not in
What are the primary sources of revenue for Towns?
The Towns earn their revenues primarily from property tax, open
advertising on roads & public and private spaces and conservancy
(sanitation) tax. Prior to 2001, the Towns were allowed to collect the
advertisement revenues themselves. However, a Sindh Local Government
Ordinance issued by the then Governor in 2001 transferred the
responsibility of collecting advertisement revenue to the City
Government which has taken a devastating toll. In 2001-02, the North
Nazimabad Town alone collected Rs 8.5 million in advertising revenue
while in 2002-03 the City Government collected a total of just Rs 1.3
million across the entire 18 Towns. This year the City Government would
be able to collect almost no advertising revenue at all.
What about property tax?
Like the rest of the 17 Towns of the city, the North Nazimabad Town also
makes it budget on the basis of the revenue, a big portion of which
comes from the property tax. The provincial government collects the
property tax and distributes it to the Towns accordingly based on the
number and size of the properties in a particular town. What has made
the situation even worse is that the provincial government abolished the
property tax on all properties measuring 120 square yards or less. I
must say that the measure was aimed primary to weaken the Town
administrations financially because it offered blanket abolishment of
the property tax on all properties of 120 square yard or less completely
disregarding the fact that most of them were multi-storied. Needless to
say, the transfer of power to collect advertising revenue and the
abolishment of property tax have deprived the government of primary
sources of revenue thereby hurting them immensely financially. My Town,
which based its Rs 230 million 2003-04 budget has received just Rs 35
million by the provincial government under the head of property tax half
of which was deducted by the KESC at source for the street lighting
which is provided to us at commercial rates despite being used for
How do you manage to fund various water, sewerage, road repairs and
beautification programmes then?
have convinced the stake holders, such as dozens of marriage halls
located in our area, as well as others to help us financially to help
carry on with various projects, particularly beautification. We have
also asked the contractors to carry out the works on delayed payments
after the completion of the work. The "Khushhal Pakistan"
programme of the federal government has also helped us do a lot of work.
I am glad to say that the beautification works done by us have helped
push real estate prices in our Town.
there any special projects you are working on?
have already repaired and renovated around 3.5 million square feet of
major roads in our Town and plan to do the same to interior roads in
next 4-5 months. Each of the 10 Union Councils in our Town has around
3.5 million square. In addition, a Saudi investor has already started
work to develop an amusement park on BOT basis in Block E, North
Nazimabad. The Rs 20 million amusment park will open for public seven
months from now and will have latest rides and water slides to help
soothe the tensions that pervades our environs today.