Government’s nominees to serve on the Local Government Commission (LGC) are being pre-screened to ensure that persons of “high integrity” get the job.
This is according to State Minister, Joseph Harmon, who at his most recent post-Cabinet press briefing explained that background checks are being conducted on the persons shortlisted to function as Government Commissioners on the LGC.
Harmon said that the list of names was submitted by Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan to Cabinet. He noted that, the law requires that the persons named be vetted to ensure they meet the requirements to hold the office, and to carry out the roles and responsibilities contained within. One of the requirements of the law is that the persons identified must be of “high integrity”.
However, Minister Harmon in the same breath said that Government has been conducting the background checks, to ensure that even if the persons named are not of “high integrity,” “they are of some integrity, so that once they go in that position that they would be able to function.”
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.
The Opposition Peoples Progressive Party, which, three months ago named their Commissioners has been questioning Government’s delay in similarly announcing and appointing its Commissioners, and in so doing, facilitating the commencement of the operations of the Commission.
It was only recently that the PPP protested the Ministry of the Presidency over the delay in the establishment of the LGC by Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan.
During that picketing exercise, PPP Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha posited that it seemed that Government has ulterior motives for this setback. “We feel he isn’t appointing the Commission because Government wants to control these local authority bodies.”
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 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 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, former Local Government Ministers Norman Whittaker and Clinton Collymore were nominated as the Opposition representatives on the LGC.