|Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier David Granger has issued a call to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic administration to expedite local government reforms so that local government elections can soon be held.
Mr. Granger’s call has come in the wake of a number of issues as it relates to local democracy in this country. It is evident that local democracy is being trampled upon. Little regard is being shown for the various tiers of government – be they Regional Democratic Councils or Neighbourhood Democratic Councils.
Ministers Ganga Persaud and Norman Whittaker have taken a high-handed and heavy-fisted approach by transforming overseers from one NDC to another without and prior consultation with either the NDC or the overseers themselves. The fear of loss of jobs by the overseers has resulted in their not speaking out even though most if not all are not in agreement with the move.
The disrespect shown in failing to consult the NDCs on this move is alarming. But the administration continues with its approach to trample on peoples’ democracy.
At the moment, the administration is going around to the various NDCs installing IMCs without bothering to consult these various bodies before attempting to do so. What is worse is that these IMCs are being staffed with PPP/C cronies. The most recent was the NDC in Bartica, Region 7, where fifteen PPP/C nominees were installed as NDC councillors and the four other councilors perceived to be independent nominees were entirely left out.
These new appointees must be rejected by residents as the Lethem and Kwakwani NDCs did. While there must be maximum participation with fully constituted councils, there must also be adequate consultation before imposing appointees on the people of Guyana.
But not only is the administration imposing itself on the NDCs; the RDCs are no different. There has been gross disrespect for the Region 4 administration. The allocation made for Region 4 has been severely cut from its original proposal. Now that it has been cut, the correct path should have been to go back to the Region to re-priortise its programme for the approved expenditure. Instead, the government decided what and how the money would be spent. Why then did the government request a programme and estimates from the Region? Regions must be allowed to function but this is not happening. Rather, the government is using its Regional Executive Officers to do their bidding.
It should be pointed out that the REO is the Clerk of the Regional Democratic Council; hence, he must execute the decisions of the Council. Local government elections have not been held since 1994 and the time has come when the country cannot continue in this vein.
Rather than running around the country like headless chickens installing IMCs, the government needs to hold Local Government elections. But first, the Local Government reforms must be brought back to the National Assembly.