Local Gov’t Bills passed with full support of parliamentarians

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With the full support of parliamentarians, the four Local Government Bills were this evening passed in the National Assembly, paving the way for Local Government Elections to be held.

The first of the four Bills was the Fiscal Transfers Bill 2012, which was debated.

Before reaching the National Assembly, the Bill was in a special select committee which was chaired by APNU member, Basil Williams.

During the debate, Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud stated that the Bill seeks to appoint a number of additional revenue generating areas for Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, Regional Democratic Councils and municipalities.

According to Persaud, the Bill also seeks to introduce a formula with established criteria to allow for governmental support via parliament to the 65 NDCs and municipalities.

However, it was noted that a different formula will be used for the Georgetown municipality.

APNU member, Basil Williams also contributed to the debate and urged for everyone to work together in the interest of the Guyanese people.

The Municipal and District Councils Amendment Bill 2012 also received the full support of the parliamentarians and was passed in the National Assembly.

The main purpose of the Bill is to amend the act to revise the provisions pertaining to municipal councils and seeks to increase fines, and fees.

Meanwhile, the third Bill – the Local Government Amendment Bill 2012, was not met with much satisfaction from the government side of the House.

Minister Persaud expressed his dissatisfaction with the Bill. However, it was passed with support from all.

“This Bill unlike the others proved very challenging at the level of the select committee and was generally based on lack of knowledge and holistic approach to the legal framework,” Minister Persaud told the House.

He explained that when the Bill was in select committee, the committee members decided to include a number of sections that were not in the Bill. This he said, resulted in disagreement several times.

According to the Local Government Minister, this piece of legislation conflicts with everything else, as it gives the Local Government Commission the ability to remove elected members from the local authority.

“What we’re seeking to do is terribly wrong and will result in serious embarrassment to whoever has to preside over the local government system.”

Persaud asked for the original proposals to be restored.

The last Bill – the Local Government Commission Bill was also met with much dissatisfaction from the government side of the House.

Minister Persaud had an issue with the clause which gives the Commission the power to fix the remuneration for the local authority organ.

“This shows a great lack of understanding, each local authority has its own uniqueness and I shudder to know what will happen when the Commission set remuneration across the board….many of them will not be able to pay their wage bill much less provide the service,” the Local Government Minister said.

The Minister proposed an amendment to have eight persons appointed to the commission instead of seven. This was agreed to by the AFC but not the APNU. This Bill was passed with the amendment. The Amaila legislation will now be debated.

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