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More political gridlock forecast after partial presidential assent to local govt bills

The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Thursday predicted continuing political gridlock, in the wake of President Donald Ramotar refusing to assent a bill that aims to remove some powers from the local government ministers and put them in the hands of a Local Government Commission.

AFC Vice Chairman, Moses Nagamootoo said his party would continue to demand reform of the system rather than buckle under Ramotar “grudgingly” giving partial assent to the bills.

A former senior leader of the governing Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), Nagamootoo observed that government on the eve of Thursday’s parliamentary sitting to deal withthe controversial Anti Money Laundering/ Countering of Financing Terrorism (Amendments) Bill “as a carrot to the opposition.” At the same time, he accused government of withholding “the plums” which are establishment of Public Procurement Commission and appointment of an Ombudsman and Chair of Integrity Commission.

“The politics of arrogance and social bribes in the form of so-called presidential concessions would not help to ease political tensions and the gridlock would continue in Parliament,” he told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).

While the Guyanese leader on Wednesday signed into law the Fiscal Transfers Bill 2012, Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government Commission Bill, he refused to ink the Local Government (Amendment) Bill that seeks to strip the Local Government Minister of a number of powers.

Government wants the minister to enjoy the right to hire and fire Neighbourhood Democractic Councillors and appoint Regional Executive Officers to the Neighbourhood Councils.

In this regard, the AFC Vice Chairman accused government of emaciating the local government system through centrally directed control whenever the local government poll is called for the first time since 1994. “Though the local government commission could now be established, the minister remains in charge before and after any new elections, and could appoint or disappoint local government staff,” he said.

“He said that without the amended local government bill the political “minister” remained in total control of the system and is the local government organ wherever there is no council.

While the President has repeatedly said his administration was keen on holding local government elections this year, that now appears virtually elusive. Speculation is also rife that the PPP-Civic might be considering going to the polls next year because the 32-33 majority in favour of the combined opposition has been taking a toll on the management of the country including the national budget, law-making and major infrastructural projects.