By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – On a history of passionately rejecting “onerous” Bills tabled by Government, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) walked out the National Assembly and avoided all debate and talk on the Local Authorities Amendment Bill 2015 on Thursday evening.
As Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan rose to present the Bill to the National Assembly, so did the members of the PPP – walking out of parliaments chambers. The Party only returned after the Bill would have been passed by the Government.
The Municipal and Local District Councils and Local Authorities (Elections) (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Municipal and District Council Act, Chapter 28:01, to provide clarity regarding its application with respect to the new local government system.
It also seeks to amend the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, Chapter 28: 03, to ensure consistency in its application as obtains in the Municipal and District Councils Act.
Bulkan, in giving his statement on the Bill brought in his name, made it clear that contrary to reports it is not “onerous” nor does it make it harder for smaller Parties and individuals to contest Local Government Elections.
In fact, Bulkan pointed out that the Bill clarifies statements in the Local Authorities Act that contradict Chapter 28:03 of Guyana’s constitution.
“All this Bill does is to seek to provide clarity to that number and the PR list for any Party in a constituency has no bearing…,” said Bulkan.
Bulkan stated that the Bill ensures the right to local democracy and is about “handing power to the people.”
“What this Bill does is – investing in local democracy (which is) unheard of from those members on the other side of the House,” said the Communities Minister.
Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson who rose to support the motion stated that the amendment does not in any way affect the rights of individuals in any constituency.
“The reason the opposition is absent has nothing to do with consultation it is a pattern which I do feel they will frustrate the efforts of this administration to hold local government elections,” said Patterson.
The Bill and its amendments were passed with no objection after it was considered in the Committee of the National Assembly.