A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Sunday night reacted sharply to a position taken by a committee at the just concluded Congress of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) against the proposed Local Government Commission.
“The statement emanating from the PPP`s Congress regarding their opposition to the Local Government Commission to be established as a result of the Bill now before Parliament, exposes the PPP`s hypocrisy and bankruptcy,” said APNU in a statement.
The PPP’s group that addressed local governance reported to Saturday’s congressional plenary that “the Local Government Commission is a parallel government system and so we don’t agree with the proposals.”
That committee also argued in favour of holding the long-delayed Local Government elections under the present system.
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.
But APNU charged that the PPP’s committee statement on Local Government amounted to “nothing but a brazen falsehood.”
For its part, the opposition coalition explained that the Local Government Commission would be responsible for “matters relating to the regulation and staffing of local government organs”. This is precisely what is in the Bill to be presented by the Minister of Local Government to the National Assembly.
APNU further outlines that the commission will ensure that constitutional provisions are met which is that; “Parliament shall provide that local democratic organs are autonomous and take decisions which are binding upon their agencies and institutions, and upon the communities and citizens of their areas.”
The opposition coalition also dismissed government’s preference for the President to appoint six persons, three on the advice of the opposition and one by the Minister of Local Government. 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.
“In seeking to have control of this Commission all that will happen is that the government will continue to dominate local authorities and exercise the stranglehold they currently practice via this Commission instead of via the Minister,” added APNU.
APNU accused the PPP of seeking to subvert the constitutional role of the National Assembly by denying persons their constitutional rights to manage their own affairs. “This brazen and undemocratic action of the PPP must and will be resisted. We have to honour the constitution and empower local democratic organs to function in keeping with its provisions,” said APNU.
The Fiscal Transfers Bill, the Municipals and District Councils (Amendment) Bill, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government Commission Bill are scheduled to return to the House from a parliamentary select committee on Wednesday. If the Bills are approved, it will mark signficant progress in electing new office-holders for the town, city and village councils.
Since the last election, many office holders have either resigned, died or migrated, leaving behind a dysfunctional system that is responsible for basic services like drainage, roads and sanitation.