The appointees to the Local Government Commission (LGC) were on Monday sworn in at State House by President David Granger who reiterated that the move reflects his Administration’s commitment to good governance.
However, the operationalisation of the body comes 19 months after the return of local government elections in Guyana, ending months-long back and forth between Government and the Opposition over the Constitutional organ not functioning.
The members of the LGC are Mortimer Mingo, Clement Corlette, Marlon Williams, Jo Ann Romascindo, Andrew Garnett, Former ministers of local government Norman Whittaker, Clinton Collymore and former Town Clerk of Georgetown, Carol Sooba.
In his short address, President David Granger offered congratulatory remarks to Commissioners urging them to execute their functions with integrity. He noted that the appointment of the LGC will resolve disputes that may arise at the local government level, and added that this Commission falls in line with Government’s commitment to establish other Constitutional bodies, including the office of Ombudsman, the Judicial Services Commission and the recently appointed chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The Head of State pointed out that the rights of all citizens will be respected.
“I pledge to ensure that the institutions mandated by our Constitution will continue to be honoured,” the President said.
He encouraged the Commissioners to uphold their mandate which would promote confidence in the local government system.
Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan told reporters that the LGC will commence its work after the members select a Chairman. The commission would, among other things, have control over who gets appointed as officials in the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDC’s) and other local authorities.
In addition, it would have to approve budgets for the NDC’s. By law, the Commission is to be made up of eight members. These members include four nominated from the government, one from the unions and three nominees from the leader of the Opposition.
The parliamentary Opposition had named its nominees to the Local Government Commission since last year. However, the Government did not submit its nominations which resulted in a dead lock.
In the budget estimates for 2016, some $30M was allocated by the Government to the non-functioning commission. When asked, Bulkan had stated that this was to allow the commission to operate independently to Central Government.