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AFC to contest Local Govt election without fourth bill

Georgetown City Hall. In the foreground is garbage in the dirty Avenue of the Republic Canal during a recent flood due to heavy rainfall

The Alliance For Change (AFC) plans to contest local government election whenever it is called even if President Donald Ramotar refuses to sign the Local Government (Amendment) Bill into law.

AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan’s position is more forthright and definitive than A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) which hopes that the Guyanese leader will eventually do so. At the same time that coalition is not saying that it will not contest the poll.

Ramjattan said the governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) was not interested in holding the long-overdue election and it made no sense giving government another excuse for delaying the poll even further.

“We know that these people are hard-headed, very stubborn and if we go banging our heads against the wall, knowing fully well that they are not going to do it because it will be in their purpose because they don’t want local government elections,” Ramjattan told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).

The AFC leader said that at the same time his party would not relent in its demand for the Bill to be made law.

A one-time executive member of the PPP until he was kicked out over party reforms that he had demanded, Ramjattan argued that it was better to go to the polls with the three bills than have no election.

President Ramotar has since written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman explaining that the Local Government (Amendment) Bill is unconstitutional.

The bill seeks to remove the powers to hire and fire Neighbourhood Democratic Councillors and appoint Regional Executive Officers to the Neighbourhood Councils from the Local Government Minister and hand them to the Local Government Commission.

Nineteen years on after the last Local Government election was held, many town, city and neighbourhood councils are in tatters to the detriment of the communities. Many councillors have died, migrated, resigned. Rate collection and general administration are at an all-time low resulting in the poor delivery of basic services like drainage, road repairs and garbage collection and disposal.

The Local Government Commission Act 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 Act 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) Act amended the Municipal and District Council’s Act, Chapter 28:01 so as to revise the provision for municipal councils.