The Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), seemingly willing to go ahead with local government elections under the old system, is opposed to the proposed Local Government Commission.
“The Local Government Commission is a parallel government system and so we don’t agree with the proposals,” the plenary session of the just concluded PPP’s 30th Congress was told.
The group reported to the wider body of delegates that there was nothing preventing Local Government elections to be held. The last such poll was held in 1994.
Party executives have said that reports by committees to the 30th Congress would be considered by the Central and Executive Committees before final decisions are made by the PPP. The Congress, the highest decision-making forum of the party, was held at the JC Chandisingh Secondary School, Port Mourant.
One of the core concerns is the formula that is being proposed by the majority opposition controlled select committee for the composition of the Local Government Commission. Government wants the President to appoint six persons, three on the advice of the opposition and one by the Minister of Local Government. However the opposition wants three members to be appointed by the commission, three others on the recommendation of the Opposition Leader and one by a trade union.
The Fiscal Transfers Bill, the Municipals and District Councils (Amendment) Bill, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government Commission Bill are due to be debated in the House on Wednesday, a step the international community hopes will lead to polls for the city, town and village councils to be held before yearend.
The PPP’s congressional committee diagnosed that the local government system was under-resourced and councils were doing a bad job in collecting rates and assessing properties, a situation the delegates said was “directly impacting on us politically.”
In the case of Georgetown, the committee recommended strongly that central government takes over all of the programmes being run by the municipality because already most are being done by through various ministries. “As a government we are getting the blame so we should take over the entire programme within the municipality,” the plenary session was told.
The opposition-controlled City Council has been arguing for several years now that the state of the city has been due to central government deliberately starving the municipality of much needed funds. Government’s retort has been that the municipality needs to aggressively collect rates and taxes and spend wisely and account for funds earned and granted.
The committee also recommended that the police be involved in dealing with illegal occupancy, squatting and misuse of market stalls.
Recommendations were also made to deal with the absence of feedback and information sharing between government and the community leadership. Note was made that Neighbourhood Democratic Councils have not been meeting regularly partly due to a lack of leadership.