It is important that the Chairman of the Local Government Commission (LGC) be someone who is unbiased towards a particular party and as such, having the incumbent Chair Mortimer Mingo, who was recently elected into the Executive of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), at the helm is a blatant conflict of interest.
This is the view expressed by former Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud who in a interview with this media group posited that “It is clear now that as a central committee member of the PNC, he’s in the decision-making body of that party and obviously when the issue of Local Government comes up on that agenda of that party’s deliberation at the central level, then he will have opinions and views influenced by information to which he was privileged, being Chairman of the Local Government Commission.”
“So I think, right away, that the information resources at the Local Government Commission will be compromised by the Chair being an executive member of PNC. Because that is not like being a party member… party member is different from being in the leadership of your party” Persaud said.
Persaud also expressed concerns that because of this conflict of interest, the Commission’s interests may be subsumed with those of the PNC party. Considering the scope of the Commission’s power, including disciplining local politicians, Ganga noted the need for Mingo to choose.
“It can cause the Commission to act on the direction of the PNC and the PNC council. I think that the decent thing for him to do would be to give up on one, because they conflict.”
“The Commission is not just any other organisation. The Commission requires you to act impartially, without influence or bias. And I’m not sure, being in the executive of the PNC that will help his quest to be fair and transparent.”
The Commission is charged with, among other things, control over who gets appointed as officials in the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and other local authorities. In addition, it would have to approve budgets for the NDCs.
By law, the Commission is to be made up of eight members.
The members of the Commission include four nominated from the Government, one from the unions and three nominees from the Leader of the Opposition.
The Commission was sworn in last year October, after a lengthy delay. The parliamentary Opposition had named its nominees to the Local Government Commission since 2016. However, since the Government did not submit its nominees, this resulted in a deadlock.
The Commission’s members are Chairman, Mortimer Mingo; Clement Corlette; Marlon Williams; Jo Ann Romascindo; Andrew Garnett; former Local Government Ministers Norman Whittaker and Clinton Collymore; and former Georgetown Town Clerk, Carol Sooba.
There are a number of controversies in the Local Government system, which have been in the public domain for some time. One such issue includes previous reports that in some Local Authority Areas, officials are being appointed without any vacancy being advertised. In addition, there have been reports that young, qualified applicants are being overlooked in favour of others.