Definition and Functions of Local Government

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 04:55 -- Umar Farooq

Definition of Local Government

Local government refers to the operations of municipal corporations, municipalities, district councils/ boards, panchayat/union councils and other bodies which are empowered to execute functions/services related to the welfare of local residents.  Or regulation and administration of local affairs by the people inhabiting the locality through representatives.

Functions of Local Government

Local governments perform two types of welfare functions / services namely Directs services to the public and in-direct services.

The indirect functions consists of:

  • Election to various bodies of the system
  • To provide legal advices to the locals regarding any aspect of civic life.
  • Assessment of properties for taxation purposes
  • To control and audit local finances

The direct services include all public welfare activities and is the most important function rather the basic functions of the local government system. These function are divided under two headings, namely:

1. Cultural Development

This function consists of activities like provision of recreation facilities in the shape of stadiums, grounds, parks, zoos, public libraries, Museums, town planning, art galleries.

2. Social and physical functions

Preserving public health is the prime responsibility of a local government system. This is undertaken through public sanitation, drainage, provision of safe drinking water, medical relief, control and checking the spread of epidemic and communicable diseases. Physical development of the local areas like construction and maintenance of roads, link roads, public interest building, lighting of roads and streets, Promotion of public safety is also the basic function of any local government system like firefighting, relief and  rehabilitation services in times of emergency. Control of public transport, fares, rents, collecting and disposal of waste (waste management), controlling food supplies and market controls. In addition to these, public utility services like water supply, gas supply, electricity supply, transportation, education, health services. There is a growing trend of empowering the local people to run their own affairs in countries in Europe and USA but with reference to Pakistan, unfortunately, local government is given very little role and decisions are made at top level instead of grass root level.