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President refuses to sign one of four Local Govt bills into law

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar on Wednesday assented to three of the four Local Government Bills which were passed in the National Assembly three months after they were passed by the National Assembly, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon during his post-Cabinet media briefing said that the President assented to the Bills: the Fiscal Transfers Bill 2012, Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government Commission Bill.

The Local Government (Amendment) Bill which engendered a lot of controversy during enactment, and which has not been resolved, was not assented to. The HPS expressed the hope that time would resolve the issue of this particular Bill.

Using its majority in the Select Committee, the opposition has stripped the Local Government minister of the right to hire and fire Neighbourhood Democractic Councillors and handed them to the Local Government Commission. Government’s desire to give the minister the right to appoint Regional Executive Officers to the Neighbourhood Councils was also struck down by the opposition. Government has, however, argued that it should play a major role in local governnance since it is central government that spends the bulk of cash in locally governed areas. The opposition has countered by saying accusing government of attempting to dilute the local government system through ministerial diktat.

The Bills had seen strong debate in the National Assembly with arguments from both sides of the House before being eventually passed in early August.

The Local Government Commission Bill No. 13/2012 seeks to establish the Local Government Commission, as provided for by Article 78A of the Constitution, to provide for the Commission’s functions and procedure, and for connected and incidental purposes.

The Fiscal Transfers Bill 2012 seeks to enhance the autonomy of local authorities in Guyana, and assist in their quest to become financially viable.

The Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill 2012 seeks to amend the Municipal and District Council’s Act, Chapter 28:01 so as to revise the provision for municipal councils.