The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is contending that the ongoing delay in the setting up of the Local Government Commission (LGC) is leading to the continued abuse of Executive powers by the APNU/AFC Administration.
According to the PPP, the elections of the office bearers of the Farm/Woodland Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) which was scheduled for today was cancelled based on the instructions of Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, who is discharging the functions of the LGC in the absence of that body.
The Local Government Commission -which is provided for in the Constitution under article, 78A – once established, will deal with as it deems fit, all matters related to the regulation and staffing of local government organs, and with dispute resolution within and between local government organs.
The Farm/Woodland Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) has been one area of contention between Government and the Opposition PPP since there was tie with equal number of seats being allocated to both APNU/AFC and PPP after Local Government Elections (LGE) were held.
The PPP had even, successfully, moved to the courts to stop Minister Bulkan from ‘illegally’ appointing a Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Mabaruma in Region One (Barima-Waini) as well as the Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons in five other local authority areas in which the PPP and the APNU/AFC had the same number of seats after the LGE.
The PPP had contended that “in the event of a tie for the two or more candidates, another election is held in that particular Local Authority Area. If a tie should again occur, the Minister with the responsibility of that department will name a Chairman of his choice.”
The party in a release today said that their elected PPP Councillors of the Farm/Woodland NDC turned up for the elections and found that they, alone, were present as the APNU/AFC Councillors and the Overseer were absent.
When contacted, the disclosure of Minister Bulkan’s instructions was revealed said the PPP.
The PPP said it views this move “as more evidence of the pattern of those of executive authority of the Granger government which is responsible for the difficult situation Guyana faces today.”
The Party is contending that Government is deliberately delaying the process of setting up the LGC so that it could continue to exercise control.
In Government’s most recent release to the public, State Minister Joseph Harmon, had said that selecting persons of ‘high integrity’ as Government nominees for the Commission was the reason for the current delay in setting up the LGC.
Harmon noted however, that whilst the government is still yet to name its appointees, it has been taking steps to ensure the operations of the Commission. “We have actually started taking steps with the acquisition of building and office equipment for the Commission.”
The Minister then said that ensuring that this process is satisfactorily completed is what has been holding up the naming of Government appointees for the long-awaited Commission, and not the Minister of Communities, as some have been pedaling.
Communities Minister, Bulkan had promised on 5 prior occasions, different months within this year when the LGC would be up and running, however none of those promises were honoured, leaving many to speculate over Government’s commitment in wanting to actually set up the Commission.
The operationalisation of the Commission is expected to reduce the influence of Central Government, by placing the oversight of local democratic organs under the purview of a Commission and not a Government Ministry.
The Commission will comprise eight members, four nominated by Government, one from the unions operating in the local government sector, and three from the Opposition.
Former acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba and former Local Government Ministers Norman Whittaker and Clinton Collymore were nominated as the Opposition representatives on the LGC.