Government is currently considering a list of nominees put forward by Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan for the Local Government Commission, according to State Minister Joseph Harmon.
“The persons must be of high integrity. That of course is a challenge in itself,” Harmon told the press corps today at a post-cabinet press briefing where he pointed out that the law requires an integrity test for the nominess.
Harmon did not however say who those nominees were on the list submitted by Minister Bulkan. “What has happened is that the list is going through some background checks. Even if they are not high integrity, they must have some integrity so that even when they go into that position, they would be able to function.”
Harmon, meanwhile, said government has already taken steps to build and office and source equipment for the commission, which has considerable responsibility for the over 70 local government municipalities and neighbourhood democratic councils in Guyana.
“It is not the [Communities] Minister who is holding it up,” Harmon cautioned, “it is just that we have to ensure that the process is completed and that when we appoint persons to this commission they must have integrity.”
Last December, government indicated an intention to set up the commission before local government elections held in March, 2016. While the political opposition has already submitted its list of three candidates- former town clerk Carol Sooba, and former local government ministers, Norman Whittaker and Clinton Collymore- the David Granger administration is yet to submit its four candidates.
One other candidate for the commission will be drawn from the unions representing local government workers making a total of eight commissioners.
According to the Local Government Commission Act 2012, which allowed for the Commission to take effect, the Commission has the power to monitor and review the performance and implementation of the policies of all Local Government Organs (LGO).
This includes taxation and protection of the environment. It will also monitor, evaluate and make recommendations on policies, procedures and practices of all organs in order to promote effective local governance.
The Commission further has the power to investigate any matter under its purview and propose remedial action to the Minister, whenever or wherever necessary; to monitor and review all existing and proposed legislation, policies and measures relating to local government organs.
Guyana has 72 local government organs. These are separated into 65 neighbourhood democratic councils, and seven municipalities.
The commission is expected to report to the minister on the need for any legislative amendment, examine and propose ways of enhancing the capacity of LGOs, and hear appeals brought by employees dismissed by any LGO.